Some people have the wrong idea about what hospice care means. Many people hear hospice, and they think “brink of death” care or “nothing more can be done”. In reality, hospice helps people with life-limiting illness live to their fullest with the best care possible. It’s true that most people receiving hospice care die, however true hospice care is about living. This is the fourth in a series of some of the most common misconceptions about hospice.

Myth #4: Hospice is only for the last days of life

Fact:  Hospice patients and families receive care for an unlimited amount of time, depending upon the course of the illness. There is no fixed limit on the amount of time a patient may continue to receive hospice services. The Medicare benefit, and most private insurance will pay for hospice care as long as the patient continues to meet the necessary eligibility criteria.

Hospice care is most beneficial when there is sufficient time to manage symptoms and establish a trusting relationship with the hospice caregivers. When patients are referred very late in their disease process, there is often very little time to do the important work of supporting the patient and family. Many patients who enroll in hospice say, “I wish I would have started sooner.”

-by Dr. Laura Patel, Medical Director