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Advocates Raise Awareness During Hospice and Palliative Care Month


Tuesday, November 1, 2022   

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month National Hospice and Palliative Care Month - but a lot of people confuse the two, so experts say they would like to clear up some misconceptions. Palliative care is designed to keep a patient comfortable at all stages of an illness.

Hospice care is for people with 6 months or less to live.

Dr. Chandana Banerjee, director and dean of graduate medical education and a hospice and palliative attending specialist at City of Hope with the City of Hope, said it's a myth that hospice is the doorway to dying.

"Patients that sign on to hospice, right when they get eligible for it, at six months or less to live usually have an excellent quality of life," Banerjee said. "And many times their lifespan is actually prolonged by a little."

Research shows that most people wait to enter hospice until very late in the disease process, often within several weeks of death. A care team for either palliative or hospice care may include a physician, a nurse, a social worker and a chaplain. Many people mistakenly think that "hospice" is an actual place, whereas it is actually a suite of services that are most often delivered at home, at a hospital or in a nursing facility.

Dr. Robert Drake, a former hospice and palliative care chaplain, is director of medical outreach at the nonprofit Compassion & Choices. He said people may think they can't afford palliative or hospice care - but it is actually covered under many forms of insurance.

"Hospice care is free under Medicare, and when a person does ultimately die, it allows for 14 months of bereavement care. free for the family," Drake said.

In 2019, California established a task force to study how to create a statewide long-term care insurance fund; the task force's first report is due in January. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 1.6 million Americans used hospice care in 2018.

Disclosure: Compassion & Choices contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Health Issues, Senior Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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