What is the Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care?


Many pass away in facilities such as hospitals or nursing homes while receiving care that is contrary to their wishes. It is critical for older persons to plan ahead and communicate their end-of-life decisions to caregivers, doctors, and family members. For instance, if an older person wishes to die at home while receiving end-of-life care for pain and other symptoms and communicates this to health care providers and family members, the likelihood that he or she would die in a hospital undergoing unnecessary treatments decreases. If the person is no longer capable of making health care decisions for himself or herself, a caregiver or family member may have to make those decisions on his or her behalf. When choosing end-of-life care, caregivers must consider numerous considerations, including the older person’s decision to seek life-extending treatments, the amount of time the older person has left to live, and the chosen setting for care.


What is Hospice Care?


At the end of life, an increasing number of people elect hospice care. Hospice care is focused on the care, comfort, and quality of life of a person who is nearing the end of his or her life due to a serious illness. At some time, a major illness may become incurable, or a patient may want to forego certain therapies. Hospice was created to address this predicament. The patient who enters hospice care recognizes that his or her sickness is unresponsive to medical attempts to cure or reduce the progression of the disease.


As with palliative care, hospice provides extensive comfort care as well as family support, but hospice does not aim to cure the patient’s sickness. Hospice care is provided to a person who is terminally sick and whose doctor estimates the patient has six months or less to live if the illness is allowed to run its course.


It is critical that patients discuss hospice care alternatives with their physician. Occasionally, individuals do not initiate hospice care promptly enough to take full benefit of the assistance available. Perhaps the delay initiating hospice care until they are near death. Or, in some cases, individuals are not qualified for hospice care in time to benefit fully from it. By initiating hospice care early, months of meaningful care and quality time with loved ones may be possible.


What is Palliative Care?


Palliative care is a type of specialized medical care provided to those who are suffering from a life-threatening illness, such as cancer or heart failure. Patients in palliative care may receive medical care for their symptoms, or palliative care, along with treatment intended to cure their serious illness. Palliative care is intended to complement a person’s existing care by focusing on their and their family’s quality of life.


Along with enhancing the quality of life and alleviating symptoms, palliative care can assist patients in comprehending their medical treatment options. Palliative care’s coordinated services may be beneficial to any older person experiencing significant general discomfort and incapacity very late in life.



If you have been diagnosed with a life-altering, chronic illness, you may qualify for palliative care. Hospice care is available only to those who are terminally ill or have less than six months to live. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional to determine the best course of action for you or a loved one.



The views and opinions stated in this blog are exclusively those of the author and do not reflect those of iWound, its affiliates, or partner companies.


Further Reading and References


National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

800-658-8898 (toll-free)



Center to Advance Palliative Care




Hospice Foundation of America




Education in Palliative and End-of-Life Care





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