When you think of hospice care, what comes to mind? For many, it is associated with the end of life – a time when a loved one is close to death and receiving special care in their final days or weeks. However, hospice care can also be received long before the final days of life. Patients and caregivers receive the full benefit from hospice care when it is introduced sooner, rather than later, when someone is not expected to live much longer than six months. 

So what is the difference between hospice and palliative care? Let’s take a closer look.

With hospice, the goal is to provide comfort and peace in the final stages of life. Palliative care aims to improve day-to-day functioning for anyone with a chronic illness – not just cancer or those at the end of their life. www.Caringinfo.org suggests we think of our health journey on a continuum like this:

After receiving a diagnosis of a chronic health condition such as heart failure, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, COPD, initial cancer diagnosis and many others, most people choose curative care to continue treating the illness with medications and ongoing procedures. During this time, palliative care is often introduced to provide comfort from the side effects of that treatment or disease…all the while with a cure to restore health in mind. Palliative care is for any stage of a disease and can include a joint replacement, chemo, radiation, dialysis and chronic pain relief. Once it is known that a cure is no longer possible and in the final stage of life, hospice care is usually introduced for the patient and support for the family/caregivers.

In summary, hospice care focuses on making a person comfortable in their final days, while palliative care can be provided at any stage of a serious illness. It is important to understand the difference so you can make an informed decision about which type of care is right for you or your loved ones should the time come.

Dr. Porter is CEO and founder of MyHealth.MyAdvocate in Palm Desert. She is an experienced health care professional with 30 years of nursing practice dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of health care processes and advocating for patients, families and caregivers. Immediate assistance is available by calling (760) 851.4116. www.myhealthmyadvocate.com

Source: 1) https://www.caringinfo.org/types-of-care/

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