When you’re dealing with the stress of having a loved family member sick in the hospital, it can be overwhelming. One way to prepare for some of the choices is to be informed. Knowing about Palliative Care and Hospice as options may make these decisions easier. Both are words that are scary, strongly associated with death and dying. However, they can be part of difficult conversations you’re already having.
So what are hospice care and palliative care?
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is medical care that is not focused on healing, but rather, on quality of life. For example, when you have a surgery, the surgery itself is curative medicine, but pain killers your doctor gives you are palliative. Palliative care can be a part of any treatment. However, there may be a time when palliative and curative medicine come into conflict. Have conversations with your loved ones throughout their treatment about how they would like to proceed.
What is Hospice?
You may be familiar with hospice as the place where people go when the doctors “give up” on their care. In reality, your loved one will continue to receive medical care from a team of doctors and medical professionals. The primary difference is that this care is all palliative and not curative. It can be difficult to have the conversation that leads to hospice care—it is an acknowledgement that your loved one may not be recovering from their illness, and instead are in the process of dying. However, hospice care focuses on making the end-of-life process as pain-free as possible, and can allow your loved one to experience a higher quality of life. You can even have them receive hospice care at home!
Hospice is also a holistic kind of care, and also focuses on mental health. It can come with access to chaplains, counselors, and other emotional support for yourself and your loved one, and can allow you to say goodbye in a way that you and your loved one choose.
Having the conversations that lead to hospice or palliative care can be difficult, but being prepared with information can make decision-making and planning much easier!