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Five hospice myths debunked

Making end-of-life care decisions for a loved one is often uncharted waters for families and can be a difficult topic to discuss. During my time working as a hospice care provider, I have heard my fair share of misconceptions about hospice care. Here are a few of the most common and the truth to each one: 

Myth #1: Hospice means giving up hope.
Fact:
Hospice care allows patients to make the most of the time they have left by focusing on improving their quality of life. It allows individuals to live their final days in comfort, around the people they care about most.

Myth #2: Hospice is only for the last few days of life.
Fact:
If illness takes its natural course, hospice is available to individuals with six months or less to live. The sooner an individual starts receiving hospice care, the more opportunity there is to address their needs, receive pain and symptom management and integrative therapies such as music, massage and pet therapy.

Myth #3: You have to be in a special facility in order to receive hospice.
Fact:
Hospice care is available to individuals wherever they call home, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities. When care at home is no longer an option, residential hospice houses offer round-the-clock care in a comfortable, home-like setting. Allina Health has two residential hospice houses in Minnesota: Homestead Hospice House in Owatonna and J.A. Wedum Residential Hospice House in Brooklyn Park.

Myth #4: Hospice is just for the patient.
Fact:
While the main priority is providing comfort care to the patient, family and friends also receive support. I often hear caregivers say that they became more confident knowing they have a team of providers and volunteers supporting them. And because they don't undertake all of the responsibilities, the caregiver can be the partner/child/friend again. 

Myth #5: My provider will tell me when it is time to consider hospice.
Fact:
Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. Don't be afraid to start a conversation with the provider about hospice care. A hospice consultation is also a great way to determine if you, or your loved one is eligible for hospice care. I encourage you to take control of your health care decisions and seek options when the time is right for you and your loved ones.

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