Many people are eventually faced with the difficult task of obtaining either hospice or palliative care for their loved one. How do you know which is the right one to choose? There are a few key differences and similarities to consider when making your decision.
Hospice Care Versus Palliative Care: About Hospice Care
Hospice care can begin when a person chooses to no longer actively pursue treatment for a disease such as cancer. Private insurances and Medicare typically cover many of the costs of hospice, but they usually require a terminal diagnosis from a physician. The decision to stop treatment is a difficult one, but hospice can make it a bit easier on everyone involved. Hospice care can be overseen by your loved one’s regular doctor, aided by hospice nurses, therapists, and social workers. The focus of hospice care is on minimizing symptoms, while maintaining the greatest quality of life possible for your loved one. Hospice can help you manage medications, provide referrals to support groups, and assist your loved one with bathing and basic health care. Hospice can also arrange for any medical equipment your loved one needs, such as catheters, oxygen tanks, or hospital beds. Hospice volunteers can sit with your loved one or help run errands to give you a break. Hospice care often occurs in the patient’s own home, with a family member serving as primary caregiver. But seniors living in an assisted living community or nursing homes can also receive hospice.
Care Versus Palliative Care: About Palliative Care
Palliative care can begin at any stage of a disease or condition. A key difference between palliative care and hospice is that no terminal diagnosis is necessary to begin treatment. Additionally, active treatment can be pursued alongside palliative care. Care typically occurs outside of the home, perhaps in a nursing home or hospital. Palliative care can be helpful for many conditions, including cancer, neurological conditions, and chronic diseases. Goals include symptom relief, improved comfort, and better quality of life. The focus is on helping both the patient and their family cope during what can be a scary and uncertain time. Care is overseen by a team of professionals including doctors, nurses, and therapists. If you think palliative care may be right for your loved one, ask their doctor for a referral to a palliative specialist.
Whether you choose palliative care or hospice care is largely a matter of your loved one’s diagnosis and current treatment. Palliative care is a wonderful option to add to any active treatment program. It can make the process of diagnosis and treatment much easier and more comfortable for your parent. If treatment is no longer desired and your loved one has a terminal diagnosis, hospice is the way to go. Many people don’t contact hospice until their loved one’s final weeks, but it is best to initiate hospice care as soon as possible. You will reap more benefit and comfort from hospice the longer you are in the program.
In many cases, hospice care and palliative care are provided by the same company. It may be wise to contact a local provider of these services and discuss the details of your loved one’s needs with them in order to identify which level of service they require. You may also call Total Senior and speak with a local advisor in your neighborhood to get a list of local hospice or palliative care providers.