Palliative Care & Hospice Care

If you have a loved one who needs care during a serious illness, you may have heard a number of terms thrown around. It can be difficult to know what’s best for your loved one when you’re not sure what the options are.

We’re going to take a look at the two primary options you have for your loved one so you can have a better understanding of what’s best for them.

Keep reading to find out more about the difference between palliative and hospice care.

Curative vs. Comfort

Before we jump into differentiating palliative and hospice care,  let’s take a moment to explore the two types of medical care a person can receive: curative or comfort.

Curative care is anything meant to cure the disease or condition a person has. For example, a curative cure for cancer is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy only treats the condition itself and does not provide comfort.

Comfort care, on the other hand, focuses on alleviating physical symptoms and ensuring the overall well-being of a person. This could be in the form of medications and therapy.

Typically, people who are cared for as a whole person do better than those who only have their disease treated. With these two sides of medicine in mind, let’s dive into the definitions of palliative care and hospice care.

 

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care can be defined as any care a person receives focusing on the treatment of symptoms. In some cases, palliative care may also be curative, but it is primarily for managing symptoms of a condition.

Most patients will receive a combination of palliative care and curative care. Palliative care is designed to make a person more comfortable during their illness.

 

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is comforting care and is typically reserved for people who have less than six months to live. This six-month requirement needs to come from a doctor who believes a person will not survive another six months if the disease follows its natural course.  At this point, a person is no longer receiving any curative care for their condition. But, they will continue to be treated for other existing conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

The purpose of hospice is to make a patient as comfortable as possible as long as possible. This means not only taking care of clinical/physical symptoms but also their mental and spiritual well-being.

Hospice care is something a person can opt into and out of at any point. If someone decides they want to get treated once again or a promising new treatment becomes available, they can do that.

Hospice is not the loss of hope rather it’s a new definition of hope.  Here is an example:

When you are six-years-old, your hope may be to get a new bike.  When you are 16, you may hope to get a new car. When you are 36, you may hope for a good job with benefits. When you are 86, you may hope your loved ones are happy, or that you are comfortable.  Hope never stops; it just changes. Hospice offers hope during the advanced stages of a disease.

The earlier hospice is initiated, the more services a patient is able to utilize and benefit from. As referenced by Seasons Hospice, patients participating in music therapy programs have been known to become verbal after a long period of not speaking. Now that is hope, and what a wonderful thing for a family to experience! Also to note, “Patients assigned to early palliative care had a better quality of life than did patients assigned to standard care” and “fewer patients in the palliative care group than in the standard care group had depressive symptoms” .  [Source: Seasons Hospice] Which leads us to Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care.

 

What is the Difference Between Palliative and Hospice Care?

The primary difference between palliative and hospice care is that palliative care can be done alongside curative treatments or alone whereas hospice foregoes curative treatment and only has palliative treatment to manage symptoms.

Hospice also has a set time limit in place. If someone has a disease allowing them to live for several years without treatment, they can get palliative treatment but won’t be able to enroll in hospice until a doctor believes they have less than six months left to live.

Someone can get palliative care at any point during their illness. The earlier it’s provided, the better chance a person has at living a longer, and a more comfortable life despite what they’re facing.

The other important difference is in how these are covered financially. Hospice care is fully covered by Medicare but palliative care may not be. If you’re looking into palliative care, you need to find out what benefits you have with Medicare.

To find out about your coverage with private insurance, you need to check your plan as each one will be different. Some cover both whereas others may only cover hospice care.

Another difference is there are special facilities available specifically for hospice patients. These facilities are not available for people receiving palliative care.

 

What are the Similarities Between Palliative and Hospice Care?

Because hospice care heavily relies on palliative care, there are many similarities between the two of them. First, hospice and palliative care aim to ease comfort.

Another similarity is in regards to where you can receive care. Both allow a person to get cared for in:

  • Home
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals

Choosing the right location for your loved one can have a profound impact on how well they live out their final years or months. Each person will have to decide what’s best for their situation.

 

How Smithlife Homecare can Help

Our home care services can assist you when your loved one is receiving curative care or enrolled in hospice. Our goal will be to work with your family and make your loved one as comfortable as possible.

To achieve this goal, we offer the following home care services:

Personal Care

If your loved one needs help with meal preparation, bathing, or medical care, we’re more than happy to help them with that.

Many people prefer having a professional assist with these things rather than feeling as though they’re burdening a family member.

Lifestyle Services

As often as your loved one wants to get out, we can help them do just that. If they’re unable to drive, we offer transportation services and can go anywhere with them.

Recovery Care

We also offer short-term care services when recovering from medical procedures. Allowing us to help when needed can aid your loved one in recovering more quickly.

Learn More About Your Options

Now that you know the difference between palliative and hospice care, you may be ready to learn more about how your loved one can receive the type of care that’s best for them while at home.

Learn more about our levels of services by downloading our services package.