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Palliative Isn’t Hospice

Palliative care (PC) is specialized medical care for ANYONE living with a serious illness, such as heart failure, cancer, diabetes, COPD, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, etc. Anyone with a serious illness should automatically have a consult put in for Palliative Care, as there is a wealth of information and resources available under this service line. IT IS NOT HOSPICE! NOT ANYWHERE CLOSE!

Patients in PC receive care for their symptoms, along with treatment intended to cure their serious illness.

Palliative care enhances a person’s current care by focusing on quality of life for them and their family.

Palliative care can be helpful at any stage of illness and is best provided soon after a person is diagnosed.

In addition to improving quality of life and helping with symptoms, PC can help patients understand their choices for medical treatment.

In PC, a person does not have to give up treatment that might cure a serious illness.

A PC team is made up of multiple different professionals that work with the patient, family, and the patient’s other doctors to provide medical, social, emotional, and practical support. The team is comprised of doctors, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, and chaplains. A person’s team may vary based on their needs and level of care.

To start services with palliative care, a person’s health care provider (doctor, physician assistant, nurse practitioner) may refer him or her to a palliative care specialist. If he or she doesn’t suggest it, the person can ask a health care provider for a referral.

Palliative care can be provided in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient palliative care clinics and certain other specialized clinics, or at home. 

Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance policies often cover palliative care services for people with a cancer diagnosis. 


Now, let’s look at Hospice, this is a very different situation:

Hospice care focuses on the care, comfort, and quality of life of a person with a serious illness who is approaching the end of life.

With hospice, attempts to cure the person’s illness are stopped.

Hospice is provided for a person with a terminal illness whose doctor believes he or she has six months or less to live if the illness runs its natural course.

It may not be possible to cure a serious illness, OR a patient may choose not to undergo certain treatments. Hospice is designed for this situation.

The patient beginning hospice care understands that his or her illness is not responding to medical attempts to cure it or to slow the disease’s progress.

For multiple reasons, many people don’t begin hospice care soon enough to take full advantage of the help it offers. Perhaps they wait too long to begin hospice and they are too close to death.

Here is a link to the full article: What Are Palliative Care and Hospice Care? | National Institute on Aging (nih.gov)

Hope you find this helpful.  As always, I’m here for you. If you’d like to talk or ask me specific questions, please click HERE and select a day and time that works best for your schedule 🙂

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