Common myths ABOUT hospice care

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Have you ever thought about the end of your life? It's something most people don't want to consider, but will likely need to at some point.

You've probably heard of hospices, but what exactly do they do? In today's health smart we look at common myths surrounding hospice care.

After nearly 40 years of marriage, Judy Lucas found out she was losing the man she loved. "You just had that moment where you stood there and cried."

Her husband, George, was diagnosed with fatal pancreatic cancer. When chemo and other harsh treatments stopped working he chose hospice care. "Their big role is the comfort of the patient."

Doctor Debra Blue says many misunderstand what hospice really is. "There's still a fair number of people who think all we manage is cancer."

Only 35 percent of doctor blue's hospice patients have cancer. She also cares for people with a variety of conditions like heart and kidney problems. Another myth, hospice is expensive. A 2007 Duke University study found people who die under hospice care cost the Medicare system $2,300 less than people who don't use Hospice. The next myth. Hospice is only for the last few days of life. “I think waiting too long is the biggest mistake that I see."

She says 30 percent of hospice patients die in the first week. Doctor blue believes starting it sooner can help patients take advantage of pain and symptom management for longer. Our last myth. Hospice equals an earlier death. The fact is "the average person on hospice lives roughly 30 days longer."

Hospice helped Judy say goodbye to George. She says because of it the last days were peaceful for him and her. "If you get the patient comfortable, the family is going to be comfortable."

If you are considering hospice care for yourself or someone you love, click here.