Q&A: Palliative or hospice

Chronic Conditions | Aging Well | November 1, 2018
Grandmother and granddaughter
What is the difference between palliative care and hospice care?

Because palliative care and hospice care both provide support to people facing serious illness, they are often seen as the same thing. However the services they offer are quite different.

Hospice care provides medical services, emotional support, and spiritual resources for people who are in the final stages of a serious illness, such as cancer or heart failure. It is typically for people whose life expectancy—certified by a doctor—is six months or less.

Hospice care also helps family members or other caregivers manage the practical details and emotional challenges of caring for a dying loved one.

Palliative care, on the other hand, focuses on improving quality of life—in body, mind, and spirit—for people at any time during a serious or chronic illness. While it can be combined with care designed to cure or slow your illness, palliative care is focused on your particular goals.

Those goals might include reducing pain; managing treatment side effects, such as nausea; or communicating openly with health care providers, family members and other caregivers.

Learn more about palliative care and hospice care.

This health information provided courtesy of Thomas Patterson, MD