What is the Difference Between Palliative Care and Hospice?

Hospice-vs-Palliative-CareA short time ago in the medical field hospice care was not very common. Today, almost everyone has heard of this type of end of life care. Today, palliative care programs are in a similar position. This type of care is becoming much more common to our benefit. What are the differences between the two?

What is Hospice Care?

The point of hospice care is comfort and to assist both the family and the patient in dealing with end of life issues. Hospice care can be considered a special type of palliative care and is usually given to those with less than six months to live. It is often given in the home with the patient sometimes moving to a facility of some type as the end nears. With hospice care, it is a given that the patient is not expected to recover and usually no treatments are given to cure disease.

Normal Treatment

When we are treated by a doctor, the common approach is a short term treatment and then a return to our former state of health. But, as we go through life, most of us will pick up some form of chronic disease that is not going to go away. In this case, treatment needs to be aimed at restoring the patient to normal functioning as much as possible. This is the area where palliative treatment programs are gaining a hold in the medical profession.

Where Palliative Care Enters the Picture

Imagine being affected by a chronic disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In simple terms, breathing is compromised and severely limits your activities including your ability to work. While a doctor will give you medically based treatment, you have other issues. Some of these include developing a program to improve your breathing, learning how to use a number of new medical treatments and equipment, fitting your regimen into your family’s life, and a plan to handle exacerbations of your condition. This is what palliative care does. Its goal is to restore the patient and his family to the maximum state of wellness possible.

Patients in palliative care can receive full treatment for their conditions unlike hospice which is focused more on comfort. Patients can also enter and leave palliative care several times over a period of years due to a change in their condition. Patients with this type of care work with their doctor, therapists and other health care persons to find solutions to their care issues. For more specific information on palliative care go here.

The most important aspect of this type of care is that it also includes the patient’s home life and family in the planning of treatment. If you have someone who develops a serious chronic condition it changes everyone’s life at home. Family members develop concerns and fears about the future. Palliative care addresses all of these issues.

A Look at the Future

Palliative care means that when we or our family develop a serious chronic disease we will no longer need to fight this disease alone with our doctor. We will be able to take advantage of the latest knowledge and treatments that improve the disease, or at least make it livable as possible. We will benefit from those who have gone before us down this path, which should bring a great deal of comfort to us as we become older. The best news of all is that most medical insurers cover this type of care.