Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice - Sheboygan, WI

Let's Debunk Hospice Myths in the New Year

Our care team encounters many myths surrounding hospice care.  In the New Year, our goal is to share with you the most common myths we hear and educate on the benefits of hospice for loved ones and families.

John Martin, MSW, a social worker at Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice, shares the most common myth he hears.

Hospice Myth #1:  Hospice is only for people when death is imminent.

“During several presentations about the benefits of hospice to senior citizen groups last year, I asked the question, ‘what comes to mind when you hear the word “hospice”?  Overwhelmingly the response was hospice means you have days or weeks to live.  Not true.

To be eligible for hospice, a physician certifies the patient has a terminal diagnosis with a life expectancy of six months or less.  I have worked with hospice patients that live for not only days or weeks, but months and years.

Generally when a patient is in our care for a short time, the team has only time to manage a patient’s physical symptoms to ensure they are able to pass away comfortably.  However, individuals who receive hospice services for months (or years) are given time to focus on their emotional and spiritual well-being.

A former patient exemplifies what hospice is all about.  “Jeff” was a 44-year-old patient who lived with his wife, daughter, and son.  Jeff suffered from uncontrolled pain caused by terminal lung cancer, but his goal was to travel for his son’s upcoming baseball games.  With support from his hospice care team and his pain in control, he traveled to La Crosse, Kansas City and Milwaukee to watch his son’s baseball team play in state and regional tournaments. Throughout this time the hospice care team worked with Jeff and his family to support his quality of life goals.

Jeff lived for two and a half months after he began hospice.  The life he lived during that time was remarkable and inspirational.  More importantly, Jeff’s family has wonderful memories to treasure.

Jeff’s story is one example of how hospice services enhance the emotional and spiritual well-being of patients and their families.  The hospice team can also help patients and their families attend to spiritual needs, provide bereavement support, and empower patients to fulfill their final wishes. 

Sadly, far too many hospice patients do not experience the full benefits of hospice care until they are near death.  In these situations, there is not enough time to address emotional or spiritual needs.  Many families have said to me, “I wish my loved one would have had hospice care sooner.”

To learn more about the benefits of hospice and the team approach at Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice, please call 920-467-1800 or visit www.ssrhospicehome.org. Charmaine M. Conrad is the director of development and communications for Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice.
xxx