Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hospice, Nursing Home, and Terminal Illness Myths

Hospice and Nursing Home Myths
by Frances Shani Parker, Author
“Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
      1.  Myth: Death is a terrible thing.

Fact: Death is a natural part of life that everyone will experience. Accept, discuss, and prepare for becoming dead in your future.

  1. Myth: It’s always better to die at home.
Fact: “Home” can be the presence of love and comfort wherever a terminally ill patient may be. Most people die in institutions.

  1. Myth: Hospice speeds up death.
Fact: If two similar people had the same terminal illness, the one receiving hospice care would probably live longer.

4.   Myth: Pain is a natural part of aging and dying. Under-treated pain slows down the death process.

Fact: Pain medication is available to offer appropriate relief to patients. Under-treated pain worsens the process unnecessarily.

5.   Myth: Patients with dementia don’t miss visits from relatives and friends they don’t recognize.

Fact: Patients with dementia are often aware of their surroundings on some level. Loved ones should focus on patients’ abilities and make every effort to spend quality time with them.

      6.  Myth: Patients with dementia are always suffering.

Fact: Patients with dementia have varied days like everyone else. Happy memories and enriching activities can slow dance into their realities and fill them with joy.

       7.  Myth: Caregivers must only focus on their patients.

Fact: Caregivers must focus on their own care as well. They should seek supportive resources and monitor their sleep habits, irritability, and general health, always with a willingness to seek help when needed.

8.   Myth: Caregivers should not question decisions of healthcare professionals who are the experts.

Fact: Caregivers should be proactive as patient advocates. They should stay informed about patients’ symptoms, diseases, treatment purposes, and side effects.

9.   Myth: Nursing homes are not good places for children to visit.

Fact: Intergenerational experiences help children understand life’s passages. Children should experience opportunities that encourage them to become nurturing people, eliminate ageism stereotypes, and expose them to possible career choices.

10.  Myth: Hospice work is mostly depressing.

Fact: Millions of hospice workers view their involvement with patients as privileged occasions for mutual growth and fulfillment.

            © Frances Shani Parker

Frances Shani Parker, Author


  1. Shani,
    Those are great. I plan to share them with our hospice team tomorrow morning.

  2. Thanks, Brian. Please tell them to keep up the good work!

    "To the world you may be one person, but, to one person, you may be the world." Anonymous

  3. I like the point that dementia patients are not always unhappy... that seems to be an assumption many people make!