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Hospice Care Isn’t a Death Sentence: Get the Facts

hospice care

Hospice doesn’t mean giving up

The biggest myth around hospice care is that it means giving up on your older adult.

Many people think that hospice care is only for people who are expected to pass away within days or weeks.

That’s not true.

The fact is that hospice is a type of medical care where the goal is to maintain or improve quality of life for someone whose illness, disease, or condition is unlikely to be cured.

Hospice addresses all symptoms of a disease, but has a special focus on controlling pain and discomfort.

It’s also focused on providing comfort and support to both patients and families.

We explain why using hospice services shouldn’t be viewed as speeding up death or giving someone a death sentence.

We also describe who might benefit from hospice, how it helps caregivers, and how to speak with your older adult’s doctor about it.


Hospice doesn’t speed up death

It’s important to know that people who use hospice care don’t die faster.

In some cases, patients in hospice may actually live longer because their quality of life has improved.

The main difference between hospice and “regular” medical care is that the focus is no longer on “curing” your older adult.

But realistically, many curative treatments carry high risks for older adults, aren’t as likely to succeed, and simply cause unnecessary suffering.

Hospice isn’t a 6 month death sentence

To be eligible for hospice, a doctor certifies that the patient may not live beyond 6 months.

That may sound scary, but it’s absolutely not the same as the doctor saying they’ll definitely die within 6 months.

Qualifying for hospice is NOT a 6 month death sentence. 

It just means that every 6 months, your older adult will need to be reevaluated to see if they’re still eligible to continue with hospice care.

In some cases, seniors aren’t able to continue hospice care because their health improves too much to re-qualify.

Who might benefit from hospice care?

Hospice programs are great for seniors in advanced stages of non-curable illness, very frail, or extremely aged. For example, someone with advanced dementia might qualify.

Under hospice, medical professionals visit the older adult. This is a huge relief for people who are too frail or ill to go to the doctor’s office.

Doctors also coordinate treatments so your older adult can feel as good as possible.

Hospice care helps families too

What many people don’t know is that hospice care offers families much more support than they get under traditional medical care.

Families benefit from:

  1. Having hospice professionals on call 24 hours every day

  2. Not needing to go to the doctor’s office because nurses visit the home

  3. Getting help with bathing and other personal care tasks

  4. Reduced costs – typically, hospice care is less expensive than hospital stays or ER visits

  5. Family guidance, support, and grief counseling

How to get hospice care

Talk with your older adult’s doctor to find out if hospice could benefit them.

If it’s not a good option for your older adult at this time, let the doctor know that you’re open to discussing it when the time is right. That way, they’ll know that it’s something you’d like to learn about and consider in the future.

And in the meantime, you can do more research to find out if hospice could be helpful in the future.

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team


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