Is There A Difference Between Hopice Care and Palliative Care?

By Ann Jamison on June 03, 2014

Is There a Difference Between Hospice Care and Palliative Care?

Many people have heard the term “palliative care” but aren’t quite sure what it means. It is sometimes used inappropriately as a synonym for hospice care. While there are strong similarities between the two, they are not the same.

Understanding Palliative Care

Palliative care seeks to improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic and life-limiting illnesses. Unlike with hospice, patients do not have to be terminally ill to utilize palliative care. Cancer patients, those living with a disability, heart patients, and more can be candidates for palliative care.

It can also be of benefit to people who live with a life-limiting condition that is not yet in the final stage of the disease process. That could include diseases like congestive heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, or ALS.

What is the difference between hospice and palliative care?

Palliative care is for anyone with a serious illness. You can have it at any age and any stage of an illness, and you can have it along with curative treatment. It is not dependent on prognosis.

Hospice is an important Medicare benefit that provides palliative care for terminally ill patients who may have only months to live. People who receive hospice are also no longer receiving curative treatment for their underlying disease.

Finding Ways to Help

The care team works at finding ways to better manage the pain, symptoms and anxiety that living with a long-term illness creates. The palliative care team usually consists of doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, nutritionists, and other professionals who work together to manage each patient’s unique situation and needs.

A nutritionist, for example, can help develop a dietary menu that can relieve the digestive problems someone undergoing chemotherapy might be experiencing. Physical and occupational therapists might be able to help a Parkinson’s patient find ways to work around the limitations their tremors cause so they can lead a more normal life.

Like hospice, palliative care can be provided in whatever setting a patient calls home. It might be a personal residence, a senior living community, or a hospital.

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By Ann Jamison| June 03, 2014
Categories:  Care Giving

About the Author

Ann Jamison

Ann Jamison

Senior Living Options was founded by Ann Jamison, an experienced senior advisor who has successfully worked with hundreds of families to help them find the best care and home-like environment for themselves or their loved ones. As a company, Senior Living Options is committed to easing the stress and uncertainty that comes with a major life change; as the company leader, Ann is dedicated to delivering personal and attentive local service. To learn more, please go to

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