Palliative Care vs Hospice Care | You Should Know

Palliative care vs hospice care

Many people breathe their last in hospitals or nursing homes after having received care that wasn’t as per their wishes. Some patients may be terminally-ill and some cases may be cured, but it is essential to see what the patient values the most.

A few may seek comfort before their demise than a whole lot of painful treatments. This can be seen in some elderly folks.

Although not limited to older adults, patients must plan and let their caregivers, family, or doctors know in advance of their end-of-life preference.

For example, when a patient prefers to die at home receiving life care support for pain and other symptoms there, then such a person is unlikely to receive unwanted treatment to only end up dead in the hospital.

Sometimes, the patient may not be able to make decisions concerning their health care. In such cases, the family of the caregiver will have to decide for them. This is when they’ll have to consider several factors before deciding the patient’s desire to pursue life-extending treatments, preferred care settings, and how long they might want to live.  

What is Palliative Care? 

Palliative care is provided to patients suffering from a serious illness but currently, their condition is not considered to be life-threatening. The aim is to ease their pain and help them with other problems.

Generally, palliative care helps patients suffering from long-running health conditions like Cancer, Heart disease, Lung diseases, Kidney failure, Dementia, HIV/AIDS, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or severe renal disease. Care is also given to people suffering from side effects of some treatments like chemotherapy.

Essentially, it helps to reduce the suffering of people due to some major diseases, albeit, non-life-threatening. It must be noted that palliative care does not replace other medical treatments. it is just an addition that helps the patient and their family deal with issues like shortness of breath, nausea, or nerve pain.

Palliative care is also provided to patients who suffer from an illness that makes it hard to play, work or move around. The use of palliative care makes people feel more in control of their life despite the illness. This care is provided in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or at home.

What is Hospice Care?  

Hospice care is provided to patients who have learned from their doctors that their suffering from a non-recoverable condition. This form of care focuses on easing pain and helping families prepare for the eventual demise of their loved ones. It may be noted that palliative care is but one part of hospice care, but otherwise, it’s different.

Patients in hospice care are usually expected to live for not more than 6 months. In most cases, they get their care back at home in the close presence of family members. However, the service is provided in numerous nursing homes and hospitals as well.

Hospice care is not limited to doctors and nurses but can also involve family members, religious figures, counselors, or social workers. The presence of these people helps the family of the invalid and the patient cope with the emotions and grief of death.

Palliative Care vs Hospice Care

At first glance, palliative and hospice care may seem similar and they do have some similarities. But medically, they are two different forms of care. Here are some chief differences between hospice and palliative care.

  • Palliative care provides relief from physical suffering. The patient may or may not be terminally ill, but is being treated for severe disease, suffering from side-effects of treatment, or a chronic disease.
  • Hospice care is given to patients who are not expected to live for more than 6 months. Depending on the country or state, the time limit may extend to 12 months.
  • Palliative care accompanies the patient from diagnosis to cure and is appropriate for patients in all disease stages. It focuses on the physical, social, spiritual, and mental well-being of the patient.
  • Hospice care prepares the patient and their family for their loved one’s end of life. It ensures that the patient feels comfortable and the care is opted for when it is determined that there is no further treatment for the condition.  
  • Palliative care makes use of life-prolonging medications.
  • Hospice care does not make use of life-prolonging medications.
  • Palliative care uses a multi-disciplinary approach involving highly trained professionals.
  • Hospice care relies on a visiting hospice nurse and a family caregiver.
  • Palliative care can use medicare to pay depending on the treatment plan.
  • Hospice care can use Medicare to pay for some of the Hospice charges.

Benefits of Palliative Care

Palliative care is suitable for all patients with serious illnesses irrespective of their disease stage, treatment choice, prognosis, or age. Ideally, it is provided early and throughout the illness, with a combination of life-prolonging or curative treatments.

Palliative care improves the quality of life of patients and their families. It helps patients live longer and reduces mental, and physical distress and discomfort. It may be noted that palliative care is not a choice but comes combined with the treatment.

Benefits of Hospice Care

Hospice care provides satisfactory end-of-life care to the patient as well as in the eyes of their family. Besides, hospice recipients are unlikely to suffer more pain due to unnecessary tests or medicines. Hospice care provides a familiar environment for the patient to live their last days comfortably.

It is a personalized care and support system that eases family anxiety. It gives patients a sense of dignity and respects the patient’s wishes. It comes with family counseling and also reduces the financial burden.


In conclusion, palliative care is better suited for anyone with a serious illness curable or otherwise. For most, it will try to help in prolonging the patient’s life while also trying to reduce the stress, pain, and confusion they suffer due to the disease.

However, when it comes to hospice care, it is relegated to people who can no longer pursue curative care and have only 6 to 12 months to live.

Therefore, the care aims to provide some satisfaction to the family of the invalid and the patient in that, they received support, care, and solace in a familiar environment. One could almost say that through hospice care, the patient gets to die on their terms.

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