Many people confuse hospice and palliative care since they both focus on giving comfort to people who have serious illnesses that limit their lives. It is important for you to understand how these types of care differ, however. At Elder Care Direction, we can help families understand palliative care and hospice so that they can advocate for their loved ones and make better decisions about the care that they need.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care is meant for people who have serious illnesses. It is focused on helping to alleviate some of the side effects of treatment and the symptoms so that the patients can have a better quality of life. The goal of palliative care is to treat the whole person. It focuses on all aspects of a disease, including the practical, social, emotional, and physical impacts of it.
Palliative care may be provided simultaneously to treatments that are meant to cure the disease. It is often used for patients who have diseases such as cancer, heart disease, dementia, HIV/AIDS, lung disease, and other serious conditions. Palliative care may start when a person is diagnosed and continue until he or she dies.
What is hospice care?
Hospice is also designed to give comfort to people who have serious illnesses that limit their lives. Hospice addresses the spiritual, emotional, social, and physical needs of both the terminally ill patient and the patient’s family members. Palliative care may be provided as a component of hospice care. However, hospice is reserved for the end stages of the disease. It is typically offered when a patient has a prognosis of fewer than six months and no longer wishes to receive treatments aimed at curing the disease.
Hospice care provides treatments that are designed to relieve pain or to control symptoms. It may provide wheelchairs or walkers, medical supplies, and a number of services that are paid for by Medicare. Your loved one might receive short-term inpatient care, speech, occupational, and physical therapy, and regular visits from a care team.
Who pays for hospice and palliative care?
Hospice care may be covered by private health insurance, the Veteran’s Administration, Medicaid, and Medicare. The VA, Medicaid, and Medicare pay for hospice care for people who have terminal illnesses who also meet admission criteria at no cost. People who pay for hospice care with private health insurance may have to pay some charges.
Hospice care does not cover services for other conditions, treatments, or medications. Unrelated conditions will still be paid for by the patient’s other private insurance or by traditional Medicare or Medicaid. Hospice only provides services that are needed for comfort.
Palliative care may also be covered by private and public insurance. Coverage under Medicaid will vary, depending on your state. Private health insurance coverage will also vary, depending on your insurer and your plan. If you think that your loved one might need hospice care or palliative care, talk to his or her insurance provider to learn whether it offers coverage.
What are the benefits of hospice and palliative care?
Hospice and palliative care help to improve the life quality of people who have serious illnesses. Both are comprehensive in nature. Hospice allows people who suffer from terminal diseases to stay in their own homes. They have access to doctors and hospice nurses on an on-call basis at any time. They also receive visits from home health aides and nurses. Hospice care might also be provided in assisted living communities and nursing homes.
Hospice is meant for people who have short life expectancies. However, the coverage may not be limited to six months. It is possible that a patient could continue receiving hospice care for a year or more if he or she continues to meet the eligibility guidelines.
Patients may be able to receive palliative care from the time that they are diagnosed. When they no longer want treatment to cure their diseases, they can move to hospice care. Both types of care help to lessen depression and to give patients more control and independence. Families can also benefit from the support that is offered so that they can make it through the process of grieving.
While hospice and palliative care offer numerous benefits, these types of care are not utilized enough. If your loved one has a terminal diagnosis or a disease that severely limits his or her life, it might be appropriate for you to consider palliative care or hospice. The team at Elder Care Direction can help you and your loved one to learn more about the benefits of these two types of care. Understanding what each offers might help you to make an appropriate decision. To learn more, contact Elder Care Direction today by filling out our online contact form.