Understanding The Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care


There’s often confusion when it comes to hospice and palliative care. At times, people use these two terms interchangeably.

But the truth is, hospice and palliative care are different. Yes, the two might have a lot in common, but there are notable differences also.

The Similarities Between Hospice and Palliative Care

The two are medical specialties that seek to support people suffering from long-term illnesses. These include:

  • Cancer
  • Dementia
  • Kidney disease
  • Organ failure
  • Liver disease
  • Heart failure
  • Huntingdon’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke

Hospice and palliative care seeks to:

  • Improve the quality of life
  • Provide emotional support to the family
  • Help people make decisions about their medical treatment
  • Increase the overall comfort

It’s important to note that neither Hospice nor Palliative care requires you to give up on your doctor. Rather, they work with your doctor to manage and coordinate your care.

So, what’s the difference between hospice and palliative care?

The main difference between the two is when they’re available. Palliative care is available to the patient from diagnosis onwards. In simple terms, it doesn’t depend on the status of your ailment and whether or not you’re receiving treatments. Hospice care is a form of palliative care. Here the attention shifts from making you recover to giving you time to focus on your last days on earth. It also requires you to stop all the curative treatment procedures.

Palliative Care

Also known as supportive care. It seeks to alleviate pain while treating other symptoms.

In palliative care, you help a patient to deal with insomnia, nausea, shortness of breath, and other symptoms emanating from the disease or the treatment plan. It aims at preserving the quality of life throughout the treatment process.

In most cases, palliative care is the support a patient receives before there’s a need for hospice care. The understanding is, people feel better when they get specialized treatment for pain and other symptoms associated with their disease. They’re able to live longer and healthy without making several visits to the hospital.

It’s important to note that palliative care doesn’t replace your treatment. Rather, it seeks to help you and your family cope better with the treatment. A registered medical professional works with you to ensure you’re on track with the medicine and assess your condition to determine whether there’s an improvement or not.

If you’re dealing with a chronic or severe ailment, ask your doctors to release you for palliative care at home. It will increase your possibility of feeling better.

The Hospice Care

Hospice care has the same approach as palliative care. But the attention shifts from treatment to support and comfort.

Hospice care kicks in when your life expectancy is in terms of weeks or months and not years. It allows you to choose how and with whom you want to spend your last days on earth.

The hospice team works with you and your family during this period. Here, they do everything to honor your wishes.

Hospice care can be offered at a home, long-term care facility, or assisted living.

Hospice and palliative care are all about giving care and support to the sick. While palliative care aims at recovery, hospice care is about honoring your wishes on your last days.

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