Contrary to a popular misunderstanding, hospice is not a dismal, isolated place that you go when you're ready to die.

Instead, it is specialized care provided to you at your home where you are the most comfortable and can have the support and/or involvement of your family and friends. Anyone with a life expectancy of six months of less could be eligible for hospice.

For example, someone with an illness that is no longer responding to treatment, or with a disease that has advanced to its final stage, could benefit from hospice care.

"The mission of hospice is to affirm life and view death as a natural process. Hospice is not designed to hasten death or 'help' someone die, but rather to help patients live the remainder of their lives as fully as possible," wrote Angela Morrow RN in her article, "What is Hospice?"

Myth: Hospice is where you go when there is "nothing else to be done."

Reality: Hospice is the 'something' more that can be done for the patient and the family when the illness is considered terminal. The goal is to help the patient with a better quality of life so that the time remaining is spent comfortably with family and friends.

Myth: You can't keep your own doctor if you enter hospice.

Reality: Hospice physicians work closely with your doctor of choice to determine a plan of care. (Tribute Direct)

Myth: Getting admitted to hospice means the patient is giving up.

Reality: Admission to hospice care means that the patient and family have received a life expectancy diagnosis of six months or less. The patient is not giving up but choosing how to live the final months, weeks, and days of life with as much comfort as possible, surrounded by loved ones and in an environment that is comfortable to the heart, mind, and spirit. (Tribute Direct)

Myth: Good care at the end of life is very expensive.

Reality: Hospice care is provided regardless of ability to pay. Medicare, most insurance plans, HMOs and managed care plans include Hospice coverage.

Myth: Hospice is only for cancer patients.

Reality: 51 percent of hospice patients are admitted to hospice with chronic, non-cancer diagnoses. Some of the most common non-cancer diagnoses in hospice are heart disease, dementia, lung disease, kidney disease, and liver disease. The hospice team is very skilled at managing symptoms of cancer and of many other chronic illnesses. (The Truth about Hospice - Morrow)

Myth: Hospice me­­ans that I have to sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order.

Reality: Having a DNR is not a requirement to receive hospice care. Signing a DNR means that you do not want to be resuscitated with CPR or other means should your breathing or heart stop. While many patients on hospice elect to have a DNR, it's not the right choice for everyone. The goal of hospice is patient comfort, with the patient directing care. ­(The Truth about Hospice)

Myth: Hospice is for people who have no hope.

Reality: Facing a serious illness is never easy; however, even when life is measured in months instead of years, there is still a lot of living to do. Hospice can help individuals spend there final months doing the things that are most important to them. Hospice can provide the physical, emotional and spiritual support clients and families need to welcome each new day. (Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan).

Myth: Hospice care is only appropriate in the last few days of life.

Reality: Hospice care is for anyone in advanced stages of illness. The hospice team can do much more to help maintain the best quality of life for the client and family when services begin sooner rather than later.

Myth: Hospice is a place you go when you're dying.

Reality: Hospice care is provided to you in your own home by a team of trained professionals.

"Life has a beginning and a natural life should have a proper end...People make a mistake in thinking that the hospice movement is about dying. It is about living." (Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize).

For more information about hospice, contact Blue Mountain Hospice at 575-1648.

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