Palliative Care VS Hospice Care

Sep 12, 2017

Palliative Care VS Hospice Care

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Making the transition into the end of life process is certainly emotional, and can often be very complicated. With a variety of services, locations, and specialties, it can be hard to decide what kind of care you or your senior needs. The two biggest options are palliative care and hospice care. Both of these options look to ensure that the final stages of the aging process are spent in comfort and care. However, there are a few slight differences that you should be aware of before you decide to make a decision on the healthcare of yourself or your loved one. Below we will look at the differences between palliative care and hospice care.

Palliative Care VS Hospice Care

What Are They?

Hospice focuses on caring, not curing and in most cases, care is provided in the patient's home. Hospice care also is provided in freestanding hospice centers, hospitals, and nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and it is also covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans. In 2011, an estimated 1.65 million patients received services from hospice, according to an issue brief by The Center for Health Affairs. This number is expected to rise as the population ages.

Palliative care is provided by a specially trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together to provide an extra layer of support for the patient. This type of healthcare is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and it can be provided along with curative treatment. In many cases, they also have the curative intent and will try to cure whatever illness your loved one may have.


With hospice care, in many cases, you’ll have most of, if not all of the treatment covered by your insurance plan. Hospice is paid 100 percent by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance; it is the only Medicare benefit that includes pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, 24/7 access to care, nursing, social services, chaplain visits, grief support following a death, and other services deemed appropriate by the hospice agency. However, Medicare and/or Medicaid on the other hand do not always cover palliative care, and many prescriptions or other treatments might need to be paid for out of pocket. Make sure you consult with a financial advisor to ensure that you’re able to properly pay for whichever care you decide for yourself or your senior.

Prognosis and Goals

Hospice is designed to make the latter stages of life as comfortable as possible. Instead of focusing on treatment, hospice workers will instead focus on the comfort of you or your loved one to ensure the dying process is as easy and as painless as possible. By electing to forego extensive life-prolonging treatment, hospice patients can concentrate on getting the most out of the time they have left, without some of the negative side-effects that life prolonging treatments can have.

While palliative care focuses on comfort, it also still focuses on the treatment of illness in many cases, with the hopes that you or your loved one will make a full recovery. Both palliative care and hospice care will not only provide medical treatment, but emotional treatment as well for the patient and close family members. This time period can be a very tough and emotional process, which is why these care providers are trained to make this process go as smoothly as possible.

It is important to note, however, that there will be exceptions to the general precepts outlined. There are some hospice programs that will provide life-prolonging treatments and there are some palliative care programs that concentrate mostly on end-of-life care. Consult your physician or care-administrator for the best service for you.

Choosing The Right Care

Regardless of which type of care you choose, it’s always good to communicate exactly what you expect to get out of palliative or hospice care. While both have pros and cons, the decision is ultimately up to you. Be sure you do your research before you come to a final decision on which healthcare option is the best for your loved one.

If you want help with the research process, feel free to give a call or fill out an information form on our website. We’re dedicated to finding you the best possible care. Let us help you make your loved one’s transition into palliative or hospice care go as smoothly as possible!

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