Tag Archives: palliative care

Myths and Facts about Hospice Care

Based on a survey of San Diego County residents to determine the awareness of hospice care in our community, results showed that the majority of County residents had heard of hospice. However, more than half of the respondents were not able to name any hospice services. Most did not know that hospice services include support for family members as well as for the patient,  special programs for children, and bereavement support. In addition, many people are not aware that most insurance programs cover the cost of hospice care. We have developed a list of the most common myths and facts about hospice care, to help improve the understanding of this health care benefit, and have included some of the information below:

Myth: Medicare provides only six months of hospice care, so enrollment should be delayed as long as possible.
Fact: Medicare law does not time-limit the hospice benefit. Patients have access to the Medicare Hospice Benefit as long as the patient’s physician and the hospice medical director certify that the patient’s illness is still considered “terminal,” with an estimated life-expectancy of six months or less.


Myth: All hospice programs provide the same services.
Fact: Even in the same community, hospice programs can differ in the services and/or treatments that are offered to patients and their family members. Currently, there are dozens of different hospice programs in San Diego and Southwest Riverside Counties, all independent of each other. In most cases, individuals can choose which hospice program to receive services from. The Elizabeth Hospice is the most experienced nonprofit hospice program in San Diego County, with a 40-year history of providing the most comprehensive hospice and palliative care services for adults and children.

For more information, ask your doctor about hospice or palliative care services, or call The Elizabeth Hospice toll-free at 800.797.2050. Information is also available online at www.elizabethhospice.org/services.

In the wake of life-limiting illness diagnosis…

Many think about grief as something that happens after a death – but grief often arrives with a variety of losses or impending loss, especially when one is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.   At first, there may be shock or fear.  There may even be a curious calmness with the news.  But, once one begins to fully understand that the end of life is near, it is natural to begin grieving.  This grieving reaction is called anticipatory grief. Although different than the grief after the death of a loved one, anticipatory grief carries many of the same symptoms such as depression, anger, regret, guilt, even forgetfulness and fatigue.

It is important to accept this anticipatory grief response as normal and allow the feelings and expressions of loss and grief without judgment.  Although anticipatory grief is common with caregivers, it is also common with the person who has been diagnosed with the life-limiting illness – and there is support for both including support groups and counseling services.  Most important is to prioritize what things need to be done and what needs to be let go – in other words, say what is needed to be said, do what is needed to be done and make as many moments count with loved ones.

Remember, just like the grieving process, anticipatory grief is an individual process and it is a natural part of adjustment to living with loss.

If you or someone you know is living with a life-limiting illness, please know there are resources available. Ask your doctor about hospice care or palliative care services, or call The Elizabeth Hospice toll-free at 800-797-2050 or visit the website at www.elizabethhospice.org for more information.

By Donna-Marie Terranova, Staff Counselor
Center for Compassionate Care of The Elizabeth Hospice