While we may not like to talk about it, aging and death are inevitable for each of us. That’s why breaking down the barriers of discussing aging, chronic illness, and preferences in dying is important. These conversations set the tone for proactive action and reduce the stress of the unknown. Fruitful discussions assure patients that, when the time comes, family members and caregivers will know what they want and how to make their final months, weeks, and days comfortable and peaceful. This is where hospice and palliative care professionals thrive.
One of the main objectives of hospice and palliative care is pain and symptom relief. But, the prognosis and goals of treatment are different. Each specialty is becoming increasingly important to help individuals live quality lives while dealing with serious medical issues.
The Differences Between Hospice and Palliative Care
Palliative care focuses on improving the quality of life for patients facing life-threatening illnesses. This care is in conjunction with curative treatments the doctor has prescribed. The goal is to prevent and reduce suffering by identifying the cause early, assessing the degree, and recommending treatment. Palliative care is increasingly important because it looks at the physical symptoms a patient is dealing with while also recognizing the mental, emotional, and spiritual symptoms of chronic suffering.
The palliative team makes holistic recommendations for the care and treatment of patients and the caregivers. These recommendations can include medications, counseling, practical tools to increase activity, and other interventions aimed at relieving suffering and increasing dignity.
Palliative care is helpful for a wide range of patients dealing with acute and chronic diseases. These include cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, AIDs, diabetes, kidney failure, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and dementia. Pain and difficulty breathing are two of the most common symptoms that palliative care manages. But practitioners can also treat nausea, constipation, and insomnia.
Providing medical, social, emotional, and practical support to both the patient and the family requires a team dedicated to honoring a person’s dignity throughout their medical journey and changing needs. Research shows that palliative care improves quality of life, quality of care with less aggressive end-of-life care, reduces emotional distress, prolongs life, reduces hospitalization, and reduces costs for patients, hospitals, and insurance.
When a doctor determines that their patient is likely to die in the next six months, they may recommend a transition to hospice care. Hospice care does not mean that death is imminent. However, it is designed to help the patient approach the end with care, dignity, and less emotional distress. Whether it’s by a doctor’s recognition that further treatment is not possible or a patient’s decision to no longer pursue treatment, hospice care focuses on comfort and quality of life until the end.
Some people don’t pursue hospice care early enough to take advantage of all of the options it offers. That’s why it’s critical to consult your doctor immediately if someone you love has been given a life-limiting diagnosis. Starting hospice as soon as possible may provide months of meaningful care and quality time with loved ones. Hospice care is designed to work with the patient and can happen in different settings. People often receive hospice care at home, in a medical facility, or a separate hospice center. A team works together to provide medical, emotional, and spiritual support as needed for the patient. The hospice team can also offer respite care and counseling for family members.
Hospice stresses compassionate care over cure. The goal is to provide comfort for patients in the final months and days of life.
Have the Conversation
Facing long-term illness and end of life decisions is difficult. Hospice and palliative care have been designed to help the patient and the family navigate these complexities with broad support from practical pain management to mental health stress to grief counseling and caregiver reprieve. Talk with your doctor, family, and caregivers about these options so you can create a plan that ensures your care while protecting your dignity to the very end.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care’s personalized in-home care and support services can help you find the best ways to understand your loved one’s healthcare and develop strategies to keep track of their doctor’s care plan. We assist those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.