What’s the difference between palliative care and hospice?
Both palliative care and hospice aim to manage pain and symptoms. Both offer a multi-disciplinary approach to care. And both offer an opportunity to choose how to live.
The differences come with those choices. Palliative care is not reserved for the terminally ill but rather is a chose of treatment for those with chronic and/or serious illnesses. Patients who choose palliative may still receive active, and/or curative treatment for their diseases. The goal of palliative is to address symptoms that interfere with quality of life. Thus, palliative is a beneficial option for people with chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that present symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
Hospice is also based on how one wishes to live. Typically, hospice is chosen when there is a prognosis of six months or less. However, many people “graduate” from hospice because their symptoms improve and thus so does longevity. People who are no longer pursuing curative treatments are good candidates for hospice. But sadly, many believe this is a choice to make when there are only days left. Unfortunately for that patient, and his/her family, they lose the opportunity to receive many vital benefits that sustain one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
It’s important to ask one’s healthcare provider what ALL the available options are. Match those options alongside one’s values, wishes, and quality of life. Explore all the possibilities to make a well-informed decision. For more information, visit our hospice and palliative care pages here on our website.