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In Home Hospice Care

hospice and palliative care caregiver and elderly adults holding hands

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman


December 17, 2019

End of life care for a loved one is the hardest to research. Learn the difference between hospice and palliative care so you know which is right for your loved one.


Hospice and Palliative Care

Hospice and palliative care are easily confused, similar to how Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be misunderstood. Dementia is the umbrella term for memory loss diseases, while Alzheimer’s is a specific diagnosis within the dementia category.

“Hospice” is a broader term for end of life home care that palliative care also falls under. Both forms of caregiving revolve around ensuring patient comfort after the diagnosis of a chronic disease or terminal illness:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Dementia

The biggest difference between hospice and palliative care is the time when each is provided. Let’s review the details of each so you know which type of care is right for your loved one.


What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is provided to increase the quality of life for a patient who is diagnosed with a serious illness. The purpose of palliative care is to help a patient manage symptoms and support their wellbeing during treatment.

Once a patient is diagnosed with a chronic disease, a palliative caregiver can be requested during any stage of their active treatment process. For instance, a patient may be given palliative care while they go through chemotherapy after a lung cancer diagnosis. A variety of different health care providers can give palliative care, such as doctors, chaplains, and home care agencies like Commonwise Home Care.

The approach to palliative care embraces the entire human experience during a health decline: mental, physical, emotional, social, and even spiritual if requested. Palliative caregivers do not administer medication or any form of treatment but support the patient in every way possible as the disease progresses.


What is Hospice Care?

Hospice is provided during the final stages of life, usually when an individual has less than 6 months to live. As the American Cancer Society says, “Hospice care treats the person and symptoms of the disease, rather than treating the disease itself.” Once a disease has reached a point where it is uncurable and recovery is no longer probable, hospice steps in.

Similar to palliative care, hospice care does not physically treat the patient, but helps them manage symptoms and side effects. Hospice is different than palliative care in that hospice care is not provided while a patient undergoes treatment. Hospice caregivers support and affirm the patient’s life, but there is an understanding that the illness is terminal.

Please fight the urge to believe that hospice care is equivalent to “giving up.” A patient may enter back into treatment at any point during hospice care. As a family caregiver, consider respite care before making any big decisions. The decline of a loved one is unlike any other experience and may require time away as a range of emotions and physical weariness set in.


Around The Clock Caregiver

As a chronic disease progresses, the level of care a patient may need can dramatically increase. 24 hour home care provides around the clock caregivers to actively monitor your loved one. Professional caregivers can assist in a variety of ways to support older adults from personal care services like feeding and grooming or hospital-to-home care.

End of life care isn’t just about managing pain and other symptoms, it’s about making the most of the time your loved one has left.


End of Life Care

Terms like palliative care and hospice can get confusing as you search for specific types of care for a loved one online. If you need help figuring out which type of care is right, don’t hesitate to give us a call. As a home care agency, we are here to answer any questions you may have about palliative care, hospice care, and anything in between.

Even if end of life care isn’t immediately needed, creating a care plan ahead of time can reduce stress and provide peace of mind. Conversations like these are never easy, but we support families as much as we support their loved ones. Care is holistic and we believe it starts with compassion.

For more information on the Commonwise Home Care difference, please call 434.202.8565.

Disclaimer: Please check with your physician before making any changes to your diet, exercise, or medication routine.