St. Luke's Hospice

Hospice Myths

A Look at a Few Hospice Myths

Myth #1: Hospice is for people with “no hope.”

With hospice, the miracle is not in the cure… it is in the “caring.” Because patients get much relief from pain and other symptoms – and their families are supported by a caring hospice team – they can choose exactly how they will spend their final weeks or months of life. This means they can share quality family time and have a meaningful, dignified, peaceful end-of-life experience.

Myth #2: Hospice is a place.

Hospice is a type of care, not a place. Patients can receive hospice care wherever they live – usually in their own homes, but also in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or an inpatient hospice.

Myth #3: Hospice is only for people with cancer.

Though many patients do have cancer, hospice serves terminally ill people of all ages with all types of progressive diseases. These include heart, lung, kidney, vascular and neurological diseases, as well as AIDS and Alzheimer’s.

Myth #4: Hospice is for people who have only a few days to live.

Hospice care can be provided when a cure is no longer possible and it is believed a patient has six months or less to live. Unfortunately, many people enter the program too late to fully benefit from the many services available to them and their families. People often tell us: “We wish we’d entered the hospice program sooner.”

Myth #5: Hospice requires family members to be available to provide care.

While family members are usually trained to care for their loved ones at home (with the support of their Hospice team and 24-hour on-call availability to a hospice nurse) there are many cases in which this is not possible. Patients who live alone or who do not have family available to assist them can receive Hospice care. However, planning for care needs to happen.

Myth #6: Hospice is for patients who don’t need high-tech care.

End-of-life care is extremely complex and requires serious medicine. Hospice has specially trained physicians, pharmacists, nurses and therapists who provide comprehensive medical care as well as state-of-the art pain and symptom control without the use of invasive technology. Their efforts are further enhanced by a team of other professionals and volunteers who provide a full-range of support services for the entire family.

Myth #7: Hospice “dopes people up” so they become addicted or sleep all the time.  

When patients have a legitimate need for pain medication, they do not become addicted to it. Hospice has unmatched expertise in managing pain so patients are comfortable, yet alert and able to enjoy each day to the fullest extent possible given the circumstances of their medical conditions.

Myth #8 Hospice care is expensive.

Hospice care is considerably less costly than care provided in other medical settings. It is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most other types of insurances. Furthermore, because hospice has support from donations, no one is ever turned away because of an inability to pay.

Myth #9: Hospice can’t talk to patients until they have a referral from their physician.

Hospice recognizes that end-of-life issues are diverse, confusing and stressful. We encourage patients and families to talk to us earlier, as opposed to later so they are aware of the various options available to them during the final weeks and months of life. While a physician referral is ultimately required for admission to the hospice program, families can call hospice anytime for advice or information about any end-of-life concern.

Myth #10: Hospice is only for people who will accept that they are dying.

Terminally ill patients and their families often struggle to come to terms with their limited life expectancies. However, hospice can help them address their fears, feelings and concerns, and show them how to re-define hope within the context of their disease and personal lifestyles. Hospice has helped guide thousands of families through this once-in-a-lifetime experience and recognizes that every patient and family is unique. We work with each one in whatever ways they find most helpful.