By Lynne Adkins

By Lynne Adkins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When patients and families hear that it may be time for hospice care, many don’t fully understand what that means.

If it’s suggested that a loved one is a candidate for hospice care, death isn’t always just days away according to Suzanne Mayo, Administrator of Abramson Hospice in Montgomery County.

“Hospice patients and families can receive care for many, many months. This type of care isn’t just for cancer patients or those who are close to death or actively dying, but also for individuals with end stage chronic diseases who need help manging their illness,” Mayo says.

She says many people assume hospice patients are only given medications to ease pain.

“The reality is that hospice prioritizes the patient’s comfort and that certainly doesn’t include removing all medications but pain management… symptoms control, for example in the case of pneumonia, is a large part of ensuring and prioritizing comfort,” she says.

Hospice care may be given in the home or in a facility, and the patient’s long time doctor may be part of the on-going team.