For your loved one, choosing the right care may mean deciding between hospice and palliative care. Knowing the specifics of each will help you make a decision that will be in your loved one’s best interest.
Technically speaking, palliative care is any treatment for a long-term illness. It focuses on relieving symptoms and promoting comfort, but includes the possibility of curative treatments as well. Under this definition, hospice care is a type of palliative care. Generally speaking, hospice care focuses more on providing comfort for those who are terminally ill, whereas palliative care may not necessarily involve terminal illness.
To qualify for most hospice care programs, a prognosis of the illness is required. In other words, an individual must be considered to be terminally ill or within a certain number of months of death. This is due to the fact that hospice care has more of a focus on helping people live out their last days in comfort rather than preventing death.
Palliative care does not necessarily require a prognosis. Therefore, it may be provided at any stage in an illness, and thus may include curative treatments to head off the illness’s course.
Hospice care usually occurs in the home, whereas palliative care may occur in a hospital or long-term care facility. However, either one may occur in the home or in a facility. Ultimately, the difference between hospice and palliative care is not one of location, but of purpose.
Hospice care has one specific purpose: to help people with a terminal illnesses live out the remainder of their days in peace and comfort. This is not to say that hospice care will never provide curative measures (there are exceptions). It merely means that in most cases, recipients of hospice care are no longer likely to benefit from these measures, and are thus often better off without it. Hospice care often works to meet a broader spectrum of necessities, including physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Palliative care tends to be more strictly medical in nature, and will thus focus on controlling pain and symptoms. Again, in this case, curative care is still often considered to be an option. Thus, its purpose is more flexible depending on what the precise needs of the care recipient are.
In either case, skilled care providers are required. It is therefore important to weigh out your options wisely and take your loved one’s needs into account. Senior Care Centers provides both palliative and hospice options, and we keep high standards for the comfort and health of our residents.