Hospice and palliative care are both essential parts of the American healthcare system. Each year, 1.4 million people receive hospice or palliative care to cope with a life-limiting illness. Though this care is critically important for seniors, people of all ages often prefer not to think about it. The idea of coping with an illness so severe it requires intensive medical care to maintain quality of life is understandably challenging to grapple with. The good news is that these long-term care options can offer relief. Hospice, palliative care, and home caregivers provide crucial services to seniors and are worthy of recognition. Let’s take a moment to explore how these vital services have brought comfort, dignity, and peace to millions of Americans.
Hospice vs. Palliative Care
Hospice and palliative care are similar in some ways and quite different in others. The most important aspects of hospice and palliative care are the same: helping people maintain their comfort, dignity, and quality of life while coping with a severe or terminal illness. Both help people minimize their pain and discomfort and compensate for reduced mobility and functioning.
The difference between palliative care and hospice care primarily comes down to the prognosis. Palliative care is an option for people with a serious or life-threatening condition in need of comfort care. On the other hand, hospice care is exclusively for people with a terminal diagnosis who require relief from their symptoms for the remainder of their life. To qualify for hospice care, two physicians must verify that the patient has six months or less to live. Palliative care may begin at any time, at the physician’s and patient’s discretion.
While palliative care typically occurs in a hospital, patients can receive hospice care at home or an assisted living facility, nursing home, or similar facilities. Another significant difference between hospice and palliative care comes down to the coverage. Medicare pays for 100% of hospice care and does not cover palliative care. Hospice care is the only Medicare benefit that covers medications, medical equipment, 24/7 access to care, nursing, social services, chaplain visits, grief support following a death, and more. Palliative care, on the other hand, can end up costing over $35,000 per admission.
Because palliative care can be costly and is not covered by Medicare, it is often not a patient’s first choice. However in some cases, this type of care is a requirement for a person to remain comfortable.
When to Seek Palliative Care
The need for hospice care is relatively well defined. Hospice is an available option if doctors believe your loved one will die within the next six months. Palliative care is less clear-cut and more dependent on a patient’s needs. If your loved one is struggling with a serious medical condition and in need of more treatment than they can receive at home, palliative care may be the next step. Signs that palliative care may be necessary include:
- A person no longer feels able to take care of themselves at home.
- They are no longer benefiting from curative treatments.
- They do not qualify for a clinical trial for new treatment options.
- A physician does not believe that further treatment will be effective.
Palliative care can be a good option for patients with cancer, dementia, heart failure, and Parkinson’s. Talk to your doctor if you believe you might benefit from the intensive care regimen that palliative care offers.
How Home Care Fits Into the Spectrum of Care
When it comes to a major illness or medical condition, one type of care is often not enough. In-home caregivers provide vital services for seniors with life-limiting illnesses, filling the gaps between hospice and palliative care. A home caregiver can be a valuable companion and advocate during a difficult time, ensuring your needs are met and your care plan is personalized. Despite the name, an in-home caregiver is not limited to helping you in your home. Our caregivers go where clients need them most, visiting nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living facilities, and more. We know that a person’s needs travel with them even when they stay in a separate facility, and our caregivers are ready to help. All Generations caregivers are bonded and insured, so you can be confident you’ll receive nothing but the best care.
One thing many hospice or palliative care patients struggle with is the loss of independence. An in-home caregiver can help with tasks that may now be difficult or uncomfortable. That way you can stay healthy and comfortable even out of a hospice setting. Bathing, meal preparation, housework, and laundry are all ways that a caregiver can chip in and make life a little easier during a difficult time. The goal of an in-home caregiver is to provide support and help you maintain a high quality of life at home or in a care facility. No matter your needs or circumstances, a caregiver can be the partner you need in plotting a course through illness or medical difficulty. Ask us about our continuum of care today.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help 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.