playing chess with caregiver and hospice patient

Hospice care is often misunderstood, leading to fear and uncertainty during an already difficult time to wonder, “what I wish I knew about hospice.” Many people have misconceptions about what hospice entails and how it can benefit patients and their families. This blog aims to clarify these misconceptions and highlight the positive aspects of hospice care.

Misconception 1: Hospice Means Giving Up

The Reality of Hospice Care

One of the biggest misconceptions about hospice is that it means giving up on life. In reality, hospice focuses on quality of life rather than curative treatments. In this Michigan Medicine and Veterans Affairs article, Dr. Maria Silveira, a palliative care physician, explains, “Hospice is often an incredible resource for patients at the end of life, as well as the best way to support families, through care within their own home or nursing facility – but it does not necessarily mean that someone is actively dying.”

Emphasis on Comfort and Support

Hospice care emphasizes comfort and support, helping patients live as fully as possible in their remaining time. This care can significantly improve the quality of life for patients and provide essential support for families. Learn more about what to expect and the benefits of hospice care in our article here.

Misconception 2: Hospice and Palliative Care Are the Same

Understanding the Difference

Many people confuse hospice with palliative care. While both focus on comfort and quality of life, palliative care can be provided at any stage of a serious illness and can be combined with curative treatments. Hospice care, on the other hand, is specifically for patients who are no longer seeking curative treatment and are typically in the last six months of life. To dive more into the specific differences in hospice vs. palliative care, check out our blog.


“Doctors recommend hospice, rather than palliative care, when aggressive treatment is no longer having an effect on their disease, and the patient and family want care that focuses on comfort only.” – Dr. Maria Silveira, M.D., M.P.H., Michigan Medicine and Veterans Affairs palliative care physician and researcher on many aspects of end-of-life care

Misconception 3: Hospice is Only for the Last Few Days of Life

Longer Periods of Care

Another common myth is that hospice care is only for the last few days or weeks of life. In reality, Medicare covers hospice care for patients expected to live six months or less. On average, patients who enter hospice care live about three weeks, but many can receive hospice care for much longer. In fact, how long people live in hospice care depends on many factors, read our blog for more on this topic.

According to the American Cancer Society, “Hospice and palliative care both try to provide a better quality of life and relief from symptoms and side effects for people with a serious illness. Both have special care teams that address a person’s physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual needs. Hospice care often includes palliative care, but they are not the same thing.”

Misconception 4: Hospice Care is 24/7

Scope of Hospice Services

Many assume that hospice care means round-the-clock medical care by paid staff. However, while hospice provides essential support and resources, it often relies on family and friends to provide much of the day-to-day care.

Hospice agencies can arrange for necessary medical supplies and occasional respite care, but primary caregiving usually falls to family members. Dr. Silveira explains, “Even still, caring for a seriously ill loved one at home represents a giant responsibility for the family.” It’s crucial to build a support network of friends, relatives, and community members.

The Positive Impact of Hospice Care

What I Wish I Knew About Hospice: Enhancing Quality of Life

Hospice can profoundly enhance the quality of life for patients and families. Hospice care provides pain management, emotional support, and assistance with daily activities, allowing patients to spend their final days with dignity and comfort.

Most experts agree that people tend to put off hospice care until it’s too late, decreasing their quality of life. For example, in “end-of-life advocates and experts cite [Jimmy] Carter’s stay in hospice as having a positive impact on the discourse of end-of-life care.” 

Emotional and Practical Support

Hospice care also offers valuable emotional and practical support to families, helping them navigate the complexities of end-of-life care. This includes bereavement counseling and support groups, which can be a source of strength and comfort during a challenging time.

Changing Perceptions

As more people understand the true nature and benefits of hospice care, perceptions are slowly changing. The story of former President Jimmy Carter’s transition to hospice care has helped raise awareness and encourage conversations about end-of-life care options. [source: What experts wish more people knew about hospice and other end-of-life care, Kara Gavin, Michigan Medicine]

Planning Ahead

Planning ahead and discussing end-of-life preferences early can make a significant difference. This includes understanding hospice care options and preparing key documents, such as a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare.

Why Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care

Hospice care offers compassionate support for patients and families during life’s most challenging times. By debunking misconceptions and highlighting the benefits, we can better appreciate what hospice truly provides. What I wish I knew about hospice is that it’s not about giving up, but about making the most of every day with quality care and support.

As the only nonprofit, community-based hospice in the Colorado Springs region, Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care delivers patient and family-centered care with compassion and expertise. We provide medications, medical equipment, supplies, and home visits to meet every need.

If you or a loved one is considering hospice care, explore your options and have those important conversations early. Contact Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care today to learn more about our services and how we can support you during this time.

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