Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Myths About Hospice

          Hospice of Southern Illinois wants to wish you a Happy New Year! Will you dive into any superstitions of the New Year like kissing at midnight to ensure ties, eating black-eyed peas for luck and financial freedom, or stocking up the cupboards to guarantee food in the belly all year long? I may not be very superstitious. I think, however, I will partake in these three New Year traditions in hopes they lead me to have a successful 2013.
          The New Year is a wonderful time because people often seek out new opportunities like taking on a healthier life style, finally taking the risk of starting the hobby they always wished they had time for or taking a class to get educated. While on the topic of discussing how one event leads to the cause of another and getting educated, let’s discuss some hospice superstitions and misconceptions. It is common for individuals to hear the word “hospice” and immediately think that by calling hospice it means a loved one is giving up or life will be prolonged or shortened. These are only two of many false superstitions associated with hospice. Other misconceptions include what hospice really does, whom hospice serves and to pay for hospice services. Hospice services provide numerous benefits for patients and their families. Furthermore, hospice can and should lead you to lots of words including some happy ones like comfort, love and respect because our care offers that to individuals and their families who receive our service. Below I have listed a few superstitions and misconceptions, with responses, I often hear during my speaking presentations with community groups.

What does hospice really do?
Hospice of Southern Illinois provides specialized hospice services (patient care, including symptom management, emotional support, spiritual support and psychosocial intervention), addressing issues most important to the patient’s needs and wants at the end of their life focusing on improving the individual’s quality of life.

When should hospice be called?
Hospice should be called at any time the patient has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. It is appropriate to discuss all of the patient’s care options, including hospice. Patients are eligible for hospice care when they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness with a prognosis of 6 months or less. At that time comfort care and symptom management become the primary focus, and curative treatment is no longer the patient’s choice or option.

Does hospice do anything to bring death sooner?
No. Our goal is always to alleviate suffering and manage symptoms. Hospice does nothing to speed up or slow down the dying process. Our role is to lend support and allow the disease process to unfold as comfortable as possible.

Myth: Hospice care is only for cancer patients.
Truth: Hospice care is for patients with a terminal illness with a prognosis of 6 months or less including but not limited to: Alzheimer’s, cardiac disease, ALS, stroke, liver disease.

Myth: Hospice is just for the elderly.
Truth: Hospice is for all age groups during their final stages of life, including children and adults of all age groups.

Myth: Hospice is just for the patient.
Truth: Meeting the needs of the patient and family is a top priority. The family unit is at the center of all decision making. Hospice recognizes that it takes many caregivers to meet the unique needs of each patient.

Myth: Hospice care is expensive.
Truth: Hospice care is a benefit under Medicare Part A, Illinois Medicaid and most private insurers. Hospice of Southern Illinois provides services regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. 

For more myths, frequently asked questions and other resources about benefits of receiving hospice services at the end-of-life, I encourage you to continue to read on our website and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s website.

Remember the New Year is all about a new you! Help us share, educate, and reach out by subscribing to our blog and suggesting it to friends who will spread our message: Hospice of Southern Illinois is here to teach you what hospice is, what we are about, and what we can do for you and your loved ones. No one has to go through the dying process alone. Hospice of Southern Illinois can help.

Live well, laugh often, and love much,
Christine Juehne
Hospice of Southern Illinois
Community Education

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