Those who are nearing the end of life require a certain level of treatment. Whether this treatment is focused on a cure, such as in palliative care, or simply comfort, such as in hospice care, defines the nature of care one receives. A patient struggling with a serious illness may elect palliative care in the hopes of stumbling across a cure. On the other hand, a patient with a terminal condition is likely to choose hospice care, a form of care that delivers comfort instead of a cure during the last few months of life.
Although both palliative care and hospice care share some similarities, the differences between the two forms of care are distinct. Differences include who can elect either type of care, whether the treatment plan is to cure or care, who will pay for the care and the length of time an individual can sustain the care.
The focus of palliative care is to provide relief from symptoms, often including the optimism of discovering a cure. Palliative care is available to anyone who suffers from a serious illness. The patient is not required to have a terminal illness. Examples of diseases that warrant palliative care include cancer, congestive heart failure, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and liver disease.
Palliative care is available to sufferers at any age and at any time after the initial diagnosis. Experts recommend the earlier one starts palliative care, the more advantageous it is for the health of the individual.
Hospice care is usually offered to individuals with terminal illnesses and whom physicians expect to survive for less than six months. People with serious conditions may outlive the six-month period. In such instances, the individual can leave the hospice program and return when the doctor believes the life expectancy is closer to the estimated six-month period.
Once palliative services have begun, a palliative care team consisting of doctors, nurses, therapists and other involved medical practitioners offer care within the facility where the individual is situated. The palliative care team aims to offer not only medical care but social and emotional support. These instances involve an extension of the palliative medical team and can include social workers, chaplains and nutritionists. The palliative care teams ensure patients understand all available treatment options and discuss concerns and personal goals, thereby allowing patients to have full control over their care.
Hospice care patients receive care within their residence. A team of hospice care providers, including hospice nurses and doctors, are assigned to administer care within the individual’s home. Family caregivers are heavily involved in the hospice patient’s care as well, with hospice team members teaching family members on how best to tend to their loved one.
Palliative care can be obtained in a variety of treatment facilities. Patients may receive palliative care in hospitals, specialized clinics, nursing homes, extended care facilities and, on occasion, in the comfort of their home.
Rarely is hospice care administered in a hospital, and such a scenario is far from normal practice. In a similar vein, hospice care occasionally can be provided in a nursing home or hospice facility, where around-the-clock supervision is available.
Cure or Care
During palliative care, every effort is made by the palliative care team to relieve all stresses and pain due to the illness. Physicians also indefinitely strive to find a cure. While medical care is provided by the palliative care team to reduce symptoms associated with the illness, curative treatment is also offered.
Hospice programs recognize that patients are at the end of their lives, and a cure for their illness is no longer an option. Instead, patients who enter hospice programs seek only relief from pain symptoms and a place of ease and comfort to spend the last few months of their lives. As a result, hospice teams make life as comfortable as possible for the patient without aiming to find a cure.
Palliative care services may be covered under the individual’s insurance plan. Medicare and Medicaid programs may also cover the cost of palliative care. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers palliative care to eligible veterans. Private health insurance is another possible option for those seeking palliative care.
Medicare and many insurance companies will cover the cost of hospice care. However, coverage for hospice programs can vary, depending on each individual circumstance.
Palliative care may not be sustainable over the long run if the physician believes ongoing treatment offers no relief. When treatment is no longer helpful or if the doctor believes the patient has less than six months to live, the patient may transition to hospice care.
Some palliative care programs offer end-of-life treatment options, while some hospice programs focus on prolonging life. A patient’s physician is the best source of information for a patient considering either palliative care or hospice care.
Palliative care improves a patient’s quality of life. Hospice patients are happier with their end-of-life care than those who do not elect hospice care. When you are considering care for a loved one who is near the end of their life, consider hiring a professional to provide hospice care. A reputable elder care service facility and hospice care provider is Assisting Hands Home Care. Our management team at Assisting Hands Home Care works to develop the best hospice care plan with the family and patient.
Hospice care is an invaluable form of care, since it helps relieve the pain and discomfort of those who are nearing the end of their lives. Assisting Hands Home Care aides travel to the family’s home to provide compassionate care and help keep your loved ones comfortable and in good spirits. Hospice care has been known to help prolong lives as well, and some patients even improve enough to be taken off of hospice care.