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Hospice Care Versus Palliative Care

It can be an extremely emotional time when you have a family member who is in need of serious care.  How do you make the decision between palliative care and hospice care?  Let’s first discuss each care option.

What Is Palliative Care

Palliative care is focused on improving a patient’s quality of life by helping families come to terms with death and dying.  This care focuses on symptom and stress relief with a goal of improving the final moments for the patient and their family. Palliative care is provided by specialized medical teams who work closely with the patient’s physicians.  This team is another team to support the patient and families.

Treatment is determined by the patient’s needs, not their diagnosis and prognosis.  Focus is on improving symptoms such as pain, fatigue, breathing, anxiety, loss of appetite, and more.  Everyone on your medical team works to meet your treatment goals and your treatment choices.  You have more control over your own care.

Palliative care usually occurs in a medical facility. It doesn’t necessarily mean end-of-life care.  Palliative care is available for those with chronic and incurable diseases. Life prolonging therapies are utilized with no expectation that they won’t be in place. This care can be in place while a person is still trying to emotionally come to terms with their diagnosis.  The benefit is to allow the patient and their family time to determine if hospice care is something they may be interested in.

What Is Hospice Care

Hospice care is also for the final phases in a patient’s life while focusing on the patient’s comfort.  This care allows the patient to have an alert, pain-free life throughout the remainder of their days. Hospice is for patients with less than a year left due to their illness and in most cases, less than 6 months.

With the goal of allowing a patient to be as active as possible, for as long as possible, many families opt for hospice care.  To be eligible for hospice care the patient needs to be certified as terminally ill. Hospice care is assigned to a specific organization and family members must agree to not pursue curative solutions.

The patient usually remains in their own home for hospice care rather than in a medical setting.  Hospice care is available for life-limiting illnesses for people of any age. Although most hospice care is provided in the patient’s home but can also be in nursing home facilities and more.  Life prolonging therapies are not used while in hospice care.

It is possible to opt out of hospice care and if for some reason the patient gets better, they are discharged from the program. Entering this care management system does not mean you have no hope.  Most insurances cover hospice care and specialized billing is through a hospice billing company.

What’s Next

Now that you know the similarities and differences of each, you and your loved ones will better be able to determine which you are eligible for and which is best for your specific circumstances.  A solution for one individual may not be the best solution for another.  Ask questions and spend time with the family to come up with the medical service plan.

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