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Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care: How Are They Different?

May 2019

According to the most recent statistics, over one and a half million people receive hospice care each year. The Center to Advance Palliative Care has stated that 6 million people in the United States could benefit from the care they give.

If you care for a loved one who is ill, you may wonder what the difference is in palliative care vs. hospice care.

In this article, we’ll go over the key differences. Hopefully, it will help you decide which is appropriate for either yourself or your loved one.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a comprehensive approach to caring for the patient and his or her family. With palliative care, a team works together to provide all of the necessary support for the individual and their family.

A palliative care team may help with hygiene, meals, and daily tasks to help relieve the burden as you or your family member fights their illness.

This can include social care, religious care, medical care, and emotional support. You can receive palliative care at almost any venue that cares for ill individuals. This can include a nursing home, skilled nursing facility, hospital, as an outpatient, or even in your own home.

With a palliative care team, you’ll work together to find the best solution for you and your family.

The goal of palliative care is to help ease the burden of your illness on yourself and your family. With the system in place, it won’t overburden either you or one member of your family as they help care for you.

While in palliative care, you may still receive treatment for your illness and might make a full recovery. Palliative care is there for patients at any point when their illness becomes all-consuming, but it doesn’t mean the illness will necessarily lead to death.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is similar to palliative care in that a team is initiated to help you or your loved one stay as comfortable as possible. Under hospice, you’ll receive medical care, emotional support, religious support, and social care.

Hospice services may also provide help for your family to help educate them on your illness, and all things related to it.

The main difference between hospice care and palliative care is that hospice patients have stopped all treatment. They are not hoping to cure their illness and are preparing to die from it.

Hospice aims to help you or your loved one stay as comfortable as possible as they live out their last days on earth. In some cases, it may be called end of life care.

A hospice team may also help with things like bathing, hygiene, meals, and other daily tasks as well. An individual may receive hospice care at a dedicated hospice facility, skilled nursing facility, or in their own home.

If you go on hospice, you’ll typically have a team dedicated to caring for you, as well as other patients. But, you will be able to reach them at almost any time of day or night.

What is the Difference Between Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care?

There is often confusion between the two, as people mention them both at the same time. Palliative care and hospice care may be managed by the same skilled nursing facility or the same medical team. And certain facilities may provide inpatient care for both palliative care patients and hospice patients.

The main difference between the two is that someone on palliative care is still receiving medical treatments to fight their illness. Someone on hospice has opted to stop receiving treatments and is living out their last days.

Just because someone is on hospice, however, doesn’t mean they will pass away immediately. They may stay on hospice care for weeks, months, or in some cases, a few years, before passing away.

Palliative care and hospice care is also often mentioned together not only because of their similarities, but because people in palliative care may transition to hospice care.

This is what happens when an individual on palliative care decides to stop their treatments and decides they would rather stay comfortable than try and fight their illness.

Does Insurance Cover Palliative Care and Hospice Care?

It depends on your insurance. Most people who receive this care are over the age of 65 and therefore are on Medicare. Medicare does cover a large amount of hospice and palliative care, but you’ll need to check with your provider to ensure that you’re covered.

In some cases, Medicare will pay for hospice care, but not palliative care. Or, they will only pay for a small amount of the costs.

If you or your loved one is a veteran, you’ll most likely be covered for your palliative care or hospice. Again, you’ll need to check with your individual plan, as things may differ between palliative care and hospice and what they will cover for you or your loved one.

Many Arbors centers have Veteran assistance programs that accept both service and non-service connected veterans. When the VA fully pays for skilled nursing services, the veteran can keep their assets and income.

Receiving Hospice Care or Palliative Care

While we’ve discussed the difference between palliative care vs. hospice care, we have not touched on where you’ll receive the care. In some cases, your insurance will only cover you if you receive it in certain places, so again, you’ll need to check on your own particulars.

Medilocenters throughout Ohio offer care for those who are too ill to continue on with their daily activities and tasks on their own. If you’re considering palliative care or hospice for someone over the age of 65, or for yourself, contact us today. We can discuss your options with you and specialize in navigating residents and their caregivers through the confusing healthcare system.

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