Hospice Myths: 5 Common Misconceptions

Get the truth about 5 common hospice myths and misconceptions that often stop people from finding out if it would help their older adult

Hospice care is often misunderstood

One of the biggest hospice myths is that it’s only for people who are expected to pass away in days or weeks.

Common misunderstandings like this can discourage people from learning more about services that could improve quality of life for seniors and families. 

We explain what hospice is and share the truth about 5 common hospice myths that often stop people from asking if it would be helpful for their older adult.


What is hospice?

The main goal of hospice care is to make your older adult as comfortable as possible. 

Hospice combines pain and symptom management with emotional and spiritual support for seniors and families.

Visiting nurses eliminate the need to go to the doctor’s office and families can even get help with personal care tasks like bathing. 

On-call help and support is always available – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Myth #1 – Hospice is only for the last few days of life

The reality is that many people in hospice actually receive care for six months or longer.

To be eligible for hospice under Medicare, seniors need to have Medicare Part A and have a doctor certify that they may not live more than 6 months. 

It’s very important to know that this is completely different from saying that someone will definitely pass away within 6 months.

After 6 months, if your older adult’s condition has improved, they may be discharged from hospice care and return to a lower level of care.

But if they still need the same level of care, the doctor and hospice team will re-certify that hospice services are still appropriate. 

And as long as the doctor certifies that your older adult meets the 6 month criteria, Medicare will keep covering hospice care.


Myth #2 – Once someone goes on hospice, they’re going to die

Getting hospice care doesn’t mean giving up hope or that death is around the corner. 

In many cases, hospice can help stabilize a patient’s medical condition and better manage pain. 

If their health condition improves, patients can leave hospice care at any time and return if and when they need to.


Myth #3 – Choosing hospice means giving up all other medical treatment

The goal of hospice care is to improve quality of life by better managing pain and symptoms.

Every case is unique, but in general, treatments that help manage pain and symptoms will be continued and aggressive disease treatments are more likely to be discontinued.

However, it’s important to be aware that each hospice company has their own policies. 

Always check that the specific medications or treatments your older adult needs or wants will be included in that company’s services.


Myth #4 – Hospice care only happens at facilities

Hospice is a type of care and doesn’t have to happen in a specific location.

People can receive hospice care anywhere – at home, in a hospital, or in a care facility. 


Myth #5 – Hospice costs an arm and a leg

People who are covered by Medicare usually pay little or nothing for hospice care. 

Most insurance plans, HMOs, and managed care plans also include coverage for hospice.


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team

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  • Reply September 19, 2019

    deborah loercher

    Thank you for this! Ensuring people truly understand the truth about hospice is so important. However, I think one comment in your post that hospice is for ‘their older adult’ might cause a little confusion. Hospice is really not related to age, it is available at any age for a wide range of serious illnesses. But you guys do a great job and cover so many important topics for caregivers!! Keep up the good work!

    • Reply September 20, 2019


      That’s absolutely true. Hospice is a helpful service for people of any age who could benefit from that type of care. We focus on older adults because our website is dedicated to supporting families who are caring for older adults and our articles are written especially for this audience.

  • Reply December 8, 2017

    Kathy adkins

    My sister&brother-law both had hospice was wonder people there.both died in hosiptal

    • Reply December 15, 2017


      I’m so sorry for your losses 💔 It’s great that you had a wonderful experience with hospice.

  • Reply May 19, 2017

    dallas gulseth

    does hospice have any care for dimensia

    • Reply May 19, 2017


      You’d need to ask your specific hospice provider if they have staff who are trained in dementia care.

  • Reply May 13, 2017

    Audrey Dertinger

    My mom gets hospice in our home. At first I thought that mom was declining very fast and that is why they brought hospice up to begin with. But that is definitely not the case. Hospice had been wonderful and the people involved in moms care. Thier is so many great things to make mom comfortable. She has been in for nearly 6 months . Since she is doing so well she will go back to palative care.
    If there is a decline again she will be evaluated again.
    Also having an elder coach from AARP has been a lifesaver because you need support for yourself. God Bless .

    • Reply May 13, 2017


      That’s wonderful! It’s great that your mom is doing so well and able to “graduate” from hospice. It sounds like the support you’re getting is fantastic 🙂

  • Reply May 13, 2017

    Karen A Billingsley

    My mom had 3 years of hospice care while at home. I moved in to take care of her and a hospice nurse came twice a week, an aide came twice a week. There was a social worker available and a chaplain if we needed them. They even provided a wonderful volunteer who came 1 afternoon a week so I could go out and get groceries and run other errands. She became like a member of the family. It was all paid for by Medicare – meds, oxygen, wheelchair, shower chair, walker, everything. It was a godsend for mom as she would have never had the money to pay for her meds (27 of them a day) let alone the other things she needed. While it was a long terrible time to see my mom so ill, it was made so much better by the hospice team.

    • Reply May 13, 2017


      I’m so happy to hear that you had a wonderful experience with hospice and that they made such a difference in your mom’s care. It’s a huge benefit that you got so much support too ❤️ Even better that it was all covered by Medicare!

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