4 Things People Get Wrong About Hospice and Palliative Care

Holding an elderly woman's hand

Many people in Indiana face life-limiting diseases each year. According to the American Cancer Society, the estimated deaths due to cancer in the state will be around 13,000 for 2019. There will also be over 35,000 new cases. In a lot of these situations, the patient can benefit from palliative or hospice homes in Indiana. The problem is that they don’t, partly because of the following misconceptions:

1. Palliative Care Is the Same as Hospice Care

Perhaps the confusion stems from people’s limited ideas about palliative care and hospice care. While they may sound similar, they are vastly different. Palliative care is about symptom management and pain control, and it can begin even during diagnosis. Hospice care is ideal when the patient has a significantly less chance of surviving from the disease. The patient may decide to stop the treatment, and the goal shifts from that to improvement or maintenance of the quality of life until death.

2. When People Enter Palliative Care, They Die Quickly

Usually, patients enter palliative care if they are suffering from a terminal illness. In other words, they may have six months or less to live. Note, however, that this is only a doctor’s estimate and that every patient’s experience is different. Some of them can outlive this prognosis and continue to thrive for years. Others survive for only a few weeks. In the end, nobody knows life’s eventuality, but palliative care can help ensure that the patient will receive the best medical care and quality of life.

3. Palliative and Hospice Care Are Expensive

Whether something is expensive or not is subjective. What’s clear is that you can get financial support if the patient decides to enter palliative or hospice care. Under Medicare Part A, a person can receive hospice care if the doctor certifies that the patient is terminally ill or has six months or less to live. The patient must also accept palliative care for comfort. They also have to sign a statement saying that they choose hospice care over other covered benefits that can help treat the condition. In return, the patient may not have to pay anything for hospice care. If the patient decides to receive such care at home, they spend no more than $5 as co-pay for the prescription drug.

In a study by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers, patients who canceled hospice spent about five times more than those who remained. This could be because the former group was more likely to use emergency care or spend time in hospital admission.

4. Palliative Care Doesn’t Improve the Quality of Life

Elderly woman with her nurse

Both hospice and palliative care can boost the quality of life since it’s their primary objective. It’s also the finding of a meta-analysis conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers. After studying more than 43 trials involving palliative care, they found a positive association between it and the reduction of symptoms and quality of life. There’s even a link between palliative care and survival.

The idea of being in hospice care or palliative care can be overwhelming, but there’s also a chance that it’s all because of the stigma. Once a person throws it out the window, these types of care then become an effective health approach in the midst of a life-limiting illness.

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