In 2018, it was estimated that 609,460 deaths would occur in the U.S.A as a result of cancer alone. It is clear that terminal illnesses are affecting a large segment of the population, either directly or indirectly.

While the physical pain of these patients might be apparent, it does not do to ignore the sheer discomfort and mental anguish that comes with these types of diagnoses.

A young health visitor examining a sick senior woman lying in bed at home with stethoscope.

So let’s look into the differences between palliative care vs hospice care, two treatments that seek to address these issues in their own compassionate way to see how they both help address these issues in their own way.

What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a type of treatment style that focuses on treating serious illnesses. This type of care allows for medical care for symptoms. It requires the dedication of a team of professionals who focus on helping the patient with their expertise in social, medical, emotional care.

This kind of treatment can begin right from the beginning of the diagnosis. If the patient’s condition does not seem to be improving, they may have to transition into hospice care or opt for a more comfort-based approach.

Along with palliative care, you may also be advised to make a provision for medical management, depending on the patient involved.

What Is Hospice Care?

Hospice care emphasizes achieving comfort. This kind of care is usually prescribed when the patient has very little to no hope of surviving more than six months.

Palliative Care vs Hospice Care

Both these kinds of care have their similarities and differences. For one, palliative care can begin right after diagnosis, but hospice care only begins when medical professionals are convinced that the patient has a low chance of survival.

For another, hospice care is generally covered by all insurance plans, including medicare. Palliative care is covered through Medicaid and might be covered in private plans only if the patient meets a specific set of criteria.

Thirdly, palliative care can occur simultaneously along with curative treatment. Hospice care begins when the treatment ceases to be curative.

However, the two are more similar than different in their approach towards treating serious patients. Both emphasize the importance of comfort, compassion, and emotional support. Both have provisions for a caregiver to assist the patient with activities like bathing and other perks associated with assisted living.

In addition to these two, both are also used in relation to patients diagnosed with very serious illnesses. These illnesses include various kinds of cancers, AIDS, severe kidney diseases and long term illnesses. Though they may treat the symptoms itself, neither of these offer core, curative treatment.

What Do You Need?

Now that you know the differences and similarities between palliative care vs hospice care, you will better understand the reasons why either one may be prescribed to you or a loved one. While hospice care may seem rather final to you, understand that in most cases it truly helps people to prepare for the inevitable. If you yourself are struggling to come to terms with the potential loss of a loved one, do make sure you get the help you need.

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