People who suffer from a serious illness that compromises their life receive Hospice Care, a medical care option that is responsible for alleviating and preventing pain and suffering so to improve the quality of life. On many occasions we believe that this care is only given to people who suffer from cancer, when in reality it is provided to patients experiencing terminal health problems at any age and any diagnosis.
To clarify this and other myths that arise around Hospice Care, this article will explain the common myth that surrounds hospice care.
MYTH 1: Hospice Care is exclusive for people who have cancer and are in the terminal stage.
FALSE, this care is not exclusive for cancer patients, but for all those people who have advanced, progressive, chronic and incurable diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, HIV / AIDS, heart and respiratory diseases, congenital problems, amongst others. The purpose is to provide relief, from the moment they know they have a disease, so that the patient can lead a high quality life until the last breath.
There is no exclusive age to provide Hospice Care since it can be in adults, older adults, children and neonates who have been born with a serious illness.
MYTH 2: Hospice care only relieves physical pain.
FALSE, the aim is to avoid the symptoms and side effects of a disease and its treatment, and the associated psychological, social and spiritual problems. Hospice Care helps to accept both the disease, to control the physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, vomiting, insomnia and more as well as the emotional symptoms of sadness, anxiety, depression caused by the disease.
MYTH 3: Hospice Care is provided until the last breath of a person's life.
TRUE, care is given until the person dies and even the family is accompanied and aided in mourning process after death. This care is not in any way intended to accelerate the death process but rather to help the patient to manage those symptoms that put the patient and their families in a situation of suffering. Communication is established between the patient, the family, and the health team.
Hospice care teams include family members and the caregiver of the patient, since, if the patient is exhausted and does not know what to do, this can generate anguish. For this reason, the family members must receive training in hospice care.
MYTH 4: It is preferable to hide information from the patient about their health status.
FALSE, hiding information from the patient makes them unable to decide about their future. It is not advisable to hide the real diagnosis of their disease. There must be adequate training for the caregiver to talk with the patient and inform them about how they are, giving answer to each question that arises without generating alarm, but instead providing comfort, support, and a sense of stability.
MYTH 5: Medications to decrease pain /sedation accelerates the patient's death.
FALSE, pain relieving drugs are not only used in terminally ill patients, but also responsibly used in many other scenarios: for example, when giving birth. Such pain medications can responsibly be issued at any stage of life, and they do not accelerate the death process when used properly.
MYTH 6: Hospice Care opposes the practice of Euthanasia
TRUE, Hospice Care emerges as an alternative and opposing philosophy to Euthanasia. In many instances, the only reason euthanasia is discussed by people is precisely because the option of Hospice Care is either not known or not understood as a means to alleviate suffering and maximize quality of life. Therefore, it is critically important to educate the general population about the truths of Hospice Care and dispel myths.
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