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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Seniors' Health Channel
Reported October 11, 2012

The Truth about Hospice Care

WAKE FOREST, NC ( Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Have you ever thought about how you want to die or where you want to die? 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?

For 39 years, Judy Lucas never left her husband’s side – especially during the last months of his life. At age 69, George was diagnosed with fatal pancreatic cancer.

"I mean the rug was just ripped out. You just had that moment where you stood there and cried," Judy told Ivanhoe.

At first, George tried chemo and other harsh treatments, but when they stopped working, he chose hospice care.

"They calm the family. They bring medications for pain. Their big role is the comfort of the patient, "Judy said.

Dr. Debra Blue says there are many myths about hospice care.

"There’s still a fair number of people who think all we manage is cancer."

Only about 35 percent of Dr. Blue’s hospice patients have cancer.

The second myth: hospice is a place. Dr. Blue says it’s really a philosophy of care – and the goal is to help patients achieve a peaceful death in their homes.

Another myth: hospice is only for the last few days of life.

"I think waiting too long is the biggest mistake that I see," Dr. Blue said.

About 30 percent of patients use hospice for less than a week, but Dr. Blue says many more could benefit.

Myth number four: hospice means you’ll die sooner.

"The average person on hospice lives roughly 30 days longer," Dr. Blue explained.

Our last myth: once you’re in hospice – you won’t leave. In fact – some patients recover and can actually "graduate" from hospice. George wasn’t one of those, but Judy says his last days were peaceful and comforting.

"If you get the patient comfortable, the family is going to be comfortable," Judy added.

Here’s an interesting fact: in the early 1900s, dying took place almost exclusively at home. Most homes actually had special rooms to lay out the bodies, but once death became commercialized and funeral parlors took over. "Death rooms" changed to "living rooms" in American homes.

 Source: Ivanhoe interview with Dr. Ken Murray

For additional research on this article, click here.

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Darcy Dye
Community and Public Relations Manager

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