Palliative vs. Hospice


Hospice and Palliative services have been commonly intertwined, once we receive the news that something is seriously wrong with our loved ones.  These terms are often used interchangeably but either could reflect a significant turn of events for your loved one.  Let’s make some distinctions between these two terms.

Hospice is usually stated when treatment and interventions have ended.  Most of us are more familiar with the ‘Hospice,’ term as it references the final stages of life.  Thus, the health and treatment team have concluded that your relative is nearing the end phases of life and appears to be failing to thrive.  Of course, the word thrive can have many interpretations, including will-power, interest, and it is likely that their vital organs are beginning to shut down.

Palliative care is centered on offering your loved one a quality support system at their advanced stages of a medical condition.  When a person is listed under the care of palliative, it means that treatment and interventions are still in place, thus it is possible that the medical condition can subside or go into complete remission.  Palliative can symbolize a poor prognosis for our loved ones, however; there can be some hope for improvement.

Caregivers and family members are often full of questions and hope for some helpful answers, divine intervention, and resolve. Though miracles do happen, when the care team begins to use either of these terms, it is time to prepare support for you, family members, and your loved one.  A turnaround in health complications can happen and result in a significant turn of events.  You may find yourself asking what’s next and also experiencing feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and fear.

This would be a very important time to seek support from other family members; external resources may be available within the local treatment and mental health centers.  It is imperative that you take care of yourself and maintain some degree of self-preservation?  Kubler- Ross, discussed (5) stages of death and relatives that are key caregivers are likely to experience some of these same emotions, denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and coming to terms.  It is also helpful to know that these emotions can vacillate and may not appear in any given order.  Relatives are often unable to cope and recognize that their mental and physical health needs should not be neglected during this distressing period.

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