Common Myths

Palliative Care

Palliative (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) care is specialized medical care for patients with serious illnesses who may be seeking curative treatment and can benefit from extra assistance and supportive care. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness.

Fact: Palliative care does not hasten death. It provides comfort and management of symptoms like pain, nausea and anxiety as patients seek curative treatments.
Fact: Keeping people with serious illnesses comfortable may require adjustments of the doses of pain medicine. This is a result of the tolerance to the medication the body develops, not addiction.
Fact: Palliative care is given in addition to your prescribed treatment. It will be provided to relieve your symptoms as you continue to seek curative treatment.
Fact: Everyone can benefit from palliative care, including family caregivers. Studies have shown that family caregivers report less stress when their loved one is receiving palliative care, as symptoms are reduced and quality of life improves.

Hospice Care

Hospice care is a comprehensive plan of care provided by a team of medical experts that allow patients and their families to focus living as fully as possible and sharing on making meaningful moments with their loved ones. More than 1.6 million Americans entered hospice care in 2016, but many people may still have misconceptions about what quality, community-based hospice is.

Fact: In choosing hospice, you are choosing to live the remainder of your life on your own terms, as comfortably as possible.
Fact: Patients and their families can receive hospice care for six months or longer, depending on the course of the illness. The sooner you begin hospice care, the sooner you can receive the benefits of symptom management and support.
Fact: Visiting Nurse’s hospice physicians work with you and your doctors to develop an individualized plan of care.
Fact: More than half of all hospice patients are enrolled in hospice with a diagnosis other than cancer. Hospice is for any person whose illness or injury means they have a life expectancy of six months or less if the disease or condition runs its expected course. That includes patients with congestive heart failure, COPD, ALS, Alzheimer’s and other end-stage neurological diseases, and liver and renal disease. Palliative care, which provides symptom management while a patient is continuing to seek curative treatment, is also available to patients, and patients who seek palliative care can then elect hospice later as their disease progresses.
Fact: The reality is that hospice focuses on caring, not curing. Hospice care provides high-quality medical management for pain, nausea, anxiety and other disease-related symptoms. In addition, adjunct therapies like massage and music therapy help reduce anxiety and pain. Volunteers offer support to both patients and families, which also helps reduce anxiety and stress for the whole family.
Fact: Visiting Nurse serves anyone facing a life-limiting illness, regardless of age, including infants and children.
Fact: Visiting Nurse’s hospice services can start at the time of diagnosis and extends beyond the patient’s death to include grief support services for the family. The Peggy F. Murphy Community Grief Center is open to any adult in the community who has suffered a loss due to death, regardless of hospice involvement.