Chances are, you've heard the word "hospice" coming up in conversation lately. Stephanie Mehl, RN, of Providence Hospice of Seattle explains why. "End of Life conversations are the equivalent of sex talks in the 70s," she says. Boomers are facing these issues with their parents, and looking ahead to their own future.
Mehl says that many people know that hospice is a supportive type of care available to people with a prognosis of six months or less. They may not understand the myths related to hospice.
1. MYTH 1: Hospice care is very expensive. The truth is that Medicare covers all hospice services, medications and equipment.
2. MYTH 2: If my loved one or I go on hospice, we'll get 'sent' somewhere. People hardly ever go to a special free-standing hospice building, Mehl says. Instead, hospice services can be delivered in a person's home, in an assisted living or adult family home or in a nursing home. Hospice care doesn't cover room and board, though.
3. MYTH 3: People on hospice die sooner than they might otherwise. Hospice doesn't hasten death, Mehl says, citing a study which followed lung cancer patients. Those on hospice lived on average 26 days longer than those not on hospice. Good nutrition, hydration, pain control and attention to the whole person likely make a difference.
4. MYTH 4: Hospice professionals hang around all day long. The purpose of hospice isn't to do 24-hour care. Hospice professionals come in regularly to provide pain control, help with bathing, and support the patient and family. They are not full-time caregivers. Hospice can be utilized for bereavement care as long as 15 months after the death.
5. MYTH 5: If my loved one or I go on hospice, we'll have to change doctors. A hospice patient can keep his or her existing doctors.
This information was taken from a talk Stephanie Mehl, RN, gave to a group of senior care professionals called COPS (Coordinators of Patient Services) in Bellevue, Washington on September 16, 2015.