Hospice Is Often Misunderstood: What Is It, and Who Is It For?

Many of us neglect end-of-life preparations until we’re forced to make difficult decisions in the moment. How can hospice care fit into that planning?

An older adult rests their hand in the hand of a younger person in a caring gesture.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As the health care open enrollment season is upon us, it’s an ideal time to discuss end-of-life issues with our aging loved ones and explore plans that best meet their needs. Though discussing advanced illness and planning, including hospice care, can be scary and uncomfortable, having a proactive plan in place can ease the process down the road and help alleviate stress during a difficult time.

Many of us neglect end-of-life preparations until difficult decisions must be made or it is too late. According to an Ethos survey, fewer than half of Americans have discussed preparing for the inevitable with loved ones despite recognizing the importance of having a plan in place. Establishing a plan for our loved ones will help them take control of their lives as they age and empower them to make the right decisions for their unique situations. As we explore all health care options and benefits, we must reframe our thinking of non-traditional care like hospice, which is often misunderstood or not considered an option early on. We owe it to our loved ones to remain open-minded and do what is best for them.

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Sharon Collins Casey, Esq.
Chair, Board of The Washington Home Foundation

Sharon Collins Casey is a lawyer and Chair of the Board of The Washington Home, a private charitable foundation that supports elderly and terminally ill residents of Washington, D.C. One of the oldest charitable organizations in the U.S., The Washington Home was founded in 1888 as The Washington Home for Incurables providing end-of-life care.

With contributions from