Hospice Vs Palliative Care: What You Need To Know Now

Dealing with a serious illness brings up choices like hospice and palliative care. Confused about what sets them apart? In this article, we’re going to cut through the fog and lay out the differences, helping you make the right call for your loved one.

We’ll touch on must-know terms, including hospice versus palliative care, their individual perks, and how they’re alike.

Whether you’re the one needing care or you’re caring for someone else, keep reading to get the lowdown on hospice and palliative care.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care aims to make life more comfortable for folks in their final months. It prioritizes easing pain and boosting life quality, generally for those with less than six months to live—though there are exceptions.

The care setting is flexible, based on personal needs, whether that’s at home, a dedicated facility, or even a hospital.

Mostly, Medicare, Medicaid, or your private insurance will foot the bill, but be on the lookout for extra expenses like copays and deductibles.

The hospice package typically involves stuff like:

  • Pain management
  • Symptom management
  • Spiritual and emotional support
  • Social support
  • Practical assistance
  • Bereavement support


  • Hospice care excels in easing pain and tackling other symptoms like nausea and breathing difficulties.
  • It’s not just about physical well-being; the care also serves emotional, spiritual, and practical needs to boost quality of life.
  • More than just symptom management, hospice care helps patients and their families gear up for the end-of-life journey.

In short, hospice care is a lifeline for those winding down, offering symptom relief and comprehensive support for both the patient and family.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care zeroes in on easing the discomfort and symptoms of severe illnesses, curable or not. Its main goals are enhancing the patient’s life quality and supporting their family. It’s versatile, too; you can opt for it at any illness stage and even pair it with other treatments like chemo.

Almost anyone battling a serious illness is eligible, no matter the age or diagnosis. Just note that some insurance policies may have their own rules for coverage.

Palliative care services can differ but commonly feature:

  • Pain relief
  • Symptom control
  • Emotional and spiritual guidance
  • Social help
  • Daily aid
  • Grief support


  • Palliative care shines in alleviating not just pain but other bothersome symptoms like nausea or shortness of breath.
  • It goes beyond physical relief, offering emotional and spiritual guidance, along with hands-on help for day-to-day challenges.
  • Beyond just comfort, palliative care enables patients to engage more fully in activities that hold meaning for them.

Most of the time, Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance have got you covered, but keep an eye out for additional costs like copays and deductibles.

What’s Common Between Hospice and Palliative Care?

Both hospice and palliative care aim to make life better for those grappling with serious illnesses. Their goals include symptom relief and emotional support for patients and families.

Here’s the lowdown on their similarities:

  • Both excel in pain and symptom management.
  • Both offer flexibility in care settings—be it your home, a hospital, or a specialized facility.
  • Both strive to uplift the patient’s life quality.
  • Both prep the patient and family for the inevitable end-of-life phase.

However, they aren’t identical twins. Hospice typically comes into play as life winds down, whereas palliative care can step in at any disease stage. While hospice zeroes in on comfort and emotional backing, palliative care also tackles treating the illness itself.

Key Differences Between Hospice and Palliative Care

Hospice and palliative care both aim to enhance the quality of life for those with serious conditions, but they’re not cut from the same cloth.

Focus of Care

Hospice is tailored for those in their final months, putting the spotlight on comfort and emotional support. Palliative care, meanwhile, is a fit for any illness stage and juggles symptom relief with treating the root issue.

Timing and Duration

Hospice usually steps in when life expectancy is under six months. Palliative care has a broader timeframe, potentially spanning years.

Treatment Options

Hospice hones in on symptom relief and well-being without targeting the illness itself for a cure. Palliative care takes a more all-encompassing approach, dabbling in both curative and comfort-based treatments.

Payment and Insurance

Both are often covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, though it’s more plan-specific for palliative care.

In short, both hospice and palliative care offer vital support for those in the grips of serious illness. The best fit ultimately hinges on individual needs and circumstances.

How to Make the Right Choice

Deciding between hospice and palliative care is tough, but a few pointers can guide you:

Consult Medical Experts: Have a sit-down with your doctor to hash out your choices. They’ll clarify the pros and cons of each and suggest what’s best for your situation.

Weigh the Patient’s Desires: The patient’s wishes play a huge role. What are they hoping to get out of the care? What matters most to them?

Look at Your Budget: Money matters, too. Hospice is often covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, while palliative care coverage can vary.

Here are some more additional tips for picking the right option:

  • Arm yourself with info on both hospice and palliative care.
  • Chat with folks who’ve walked this road before.
  • Don’t rush; give yourself breathing room to decide.

The choice is personal. Pick what offers the best support for the patient and their loved ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a hospice patient go to the doctor?

Yes, hospice patients can visit the doctor if they're physically up for it. While curative treatments aren't an option in hospice care, doctors can still manage pain and other symptoms to improve comfort during end-of-life care.

Can a hospice patient change their mind?

Absolutely, hospice patients can change their decision at any time. They can either resume curative treatments or toggle between hospice and other care options. The choice is entirely in the hands of the patient.

What is the difference between hospice and respite care?

Hospice care aims to ease the final chapter for folks no longer pursuing curative options. On the flip side, respite care offers short-term relief for caregivers of those with chronic illnesses or disabilities, and it can happen in various settings like homes or healthcare centers.

When to call the hospice nurse?

If your loved one's making frequent ER visits, struggling with daily tasks, or showing mental or physical decline, consider calling a hospice nurse. When pain's uncontrolled or end-of-life discussions are on the table, it might be time to make the call.

What is pre-hospice?

Pre-hospice care serves people with severe illnesses who aren't yet prepared for standard hospice. It delivers emotional and medical aid to both the patient and their loved ones.

Can you get palliative care in a nursing home?

Yep, nursing homes do offer palliative care. This kind of care focuses on minimizing pain and bettering life quality for people grappling with major health issues, no matter the long-term prognosis.

What does hospice care at home mean?

Hospice care at home involves a specialized team providing end-of-life comfort and support directly in the patient's residence. This approach aims to ease the experience for both the patient and their family during this time.

When does a doctor recommend hospice?

Doctors usually recommend hospice when they estimate a patient has a terminal condition with six months or fewer left to live. The decision also factors in the patient's life quality, personal choices, and resources at hand.

Is hospice inpatient or outpatient?

Hospice care offers both inpatient and outpatient options. If you choose inpatient, you'll stay at a specialized hospice center. For outpatient care, services can be at home, a hospital, or even a nursing home.

What is the difference between hospice and Hosparus?

Hospice care can happen in two places: in a hospice building or right in someone's home, maybe even a hospital or nursing home. Hosparus is just a specific organization dishing out this care in certain spots.

Final Thoughts

Hospice and palliative care both offer crucial support for folks dealing with serious health conditions.

Choosing between hospice and palliative care isn’t a simple either-or decision; it’s all about what suits your specific health challenges and personal circumstances best.

Getting advice from a medical pro can really tip the scales, helping you pinpoint the best route designed just for you.

Read next: 10 Ways To Improve The Healthcare Quality In Hospitals