Palliative Care: An Aspect of Hospice Care

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When people think of “palliative care” they often associate it as one in the same as hospice care. To get the most from the hospice benefit, it helps to know the difference and similarities between palliative care and hospice care. Let us help break it down for you.

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. Palliative medicine is also commonly referred to as “comfort care.”

To “palliate” means to RELIEVE. 


Palliative care relieves the pain, symptoms, and stresses of a serious illness- no matter the diagnosis. For example, when you suffer an injury and go to the doctor for medical attention, he/she will provide you with medication to help deal with the pain. In other words, to make you feel comfortable. This is a means of improving your quality of life- this is palliative care.

Difference between palliative care and hospice care depends on stage of illness

A main difference between palliative care and hospice care depends on the seriousness and stage of ones illness. Palliative care can be provided at any stage of an illness, whether the illness is curable, chronic or life-threatening. It can also be utilized while seeking curative treatments.

Remind me, What exactly is Hospice again?

“Maintaining or improving quality of life for someone whose illness, disease or condition is unlikely to be cured.  Each patient’s individualized care plan is updated as needed to address the physical, emotional and spiritual pain that often accompanies terminal illness. Hospice care also offers practical support for the caregiver(s) during the illness and grief support after the death.  Hospice is something more that is available to the patient and the entire family when curative measures have been exhausted and life prognosis is six months or less.”

As defined by the Hospice Foundation of America

Hospice Focuses on Caring- Not Curing


Since we know what hospice care is, we know that hospice care is for patients who have chosen to forgo curative treatments. For those no longer actively seeking a cure for their terminal illness but want to get the most out of their last fews days with an improved quality of life.

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

Palliative care providers support you and your family by controlling your symptoms, and by helping you understand and exercise treatment options and goals of care.

Palliative Care v. Hospice Care

  • The core of palliative care and hospice care are the same: To provide comfort and pain symptom management and to optimize quality of life.
  • Hospice patients receive palliative care, but not every palliative care patient will enter into hospice care.
  • The goals of palliative care and hospice care are different and depend on the patients wishes and what they seek to accomplish.

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