1. Myth: Palliative care hastens death.
Fact: Palliative care does not hasten death. It provides comfort and the best quality of life from diagnosis of an advanced illness until end of life.
See also: Palliative Care: Dispel the myth of hastening death
2. Myth: Palliative care is only for people dying of cancer.
Fact: Palliative care can benefit patients and their families from the time of diagnosis of any illness that may shorten life.
See also: How do you know when someone is ready for palliative care?
3. Myth: People in palliative care who stop eating die of starvation.
Fact: People with advanced illnesses don’t experience hunger or thirst as healthy people do. People who stop eating die of their illness, not starvation.
See also: Can you provide some guidance about oral nutrition at the end of life?
4. Myth: Palliative care is only provided in a hospital.
Fact: Palliative care can be provided wherever the patient lives – home, long-term care facility, hospice or hospital.
See also: What is Palliative Care?
5. Myth: We need to protect children from being exposed to death and dying.
Fact: Allowing children to talk about death and dying can help them develop healthy attitudes that can benefit them as adults. Like adults, children also need time to say goodbye to people who are important to them.
See also: Don’t Use the ‘D’ Word: Exploring Myths about Children and Death
6. Myth: Pain is a part of dying.
Fact: Pain is not always a part of dying. If pain is experienced near end of life, there are many ways it can be alleviated.
See also: Pain
7. Myth: Taking pain medications in palliative care leads to addiction.
Fact: Keeping people comfortable often requires increased doses of pain medication. This is a result of tolerance to medication as the body adjusts, not addiction.
See also: Pain medication myths: Addiction and hastened death
8. Myth: Morphine is administered to hasten death.
Fact: Appropriate doses of morphine keep patients comfortable but do not hasten death.
See also: Does morphine make death come sooner?
9. Myth: Palliative care means my doctor has given up and there is no hope for me.
Fact: Palliative care ensures the best quality of life for those who have been diagnosed with an advanced illness. Hope becomes less about cure and more about living life as fully as possible.
See also: Health Care Decisions: An Approach to Decision Making and Advance Care Planning
10. Myth: I’ve let my family member down because he/she didn’t die at home.
Fact: Sometimes the needs of the patient exceed what can be provided at home despite best efforts. Ensuring that the best care is delivered, regardless of setting, is not a failure.
See also: Considerations for a Home Death
For more information, please visit the Canadian Virtual Hospice website.