Hospice Care vs. Palliative Care: What’s the Difference?

Patients facing a serious or life-limiting illness may sometimes be offered hospice care, palliative care or both. The terms are often confused. A lack of understanding can make the conversation around these topics emotionally fraught. Hospice care and palliative care are different in a few key ways. Here is an overview of the two:

Hospice Care

  • Hospice care may be offered to patients whose prognosis is six months or less assuming their disease follows its expected course.
  • Hospice care is provided only to patients who are no longer pursuing curative care. This might occur when the patient is no longer receiving any benefit from active treatment, or the patient has decided that he or she no longer wishes to undergo treatment.
  • Hospice care is often provided at home or in a nursing home, but there are some residential hospices as well as hospital beds designated for hospice patients.
  • hospice patient, If you no longer want to receive hospice or your prognosis changes you can discontinue hospice care at any time.
  • Hospice care is generally covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance.

 

Palliative Care

  • Palliative care may be provided to patients at any stage of the disease process, regardless of the prognosis.
  • Palliative care is focused on alleviating the pain and addressing quality of life issues that occur with serious illness. It may be provided to patients who are on hospice, or those who are continuing to receive curative treatment.
  • Palliative care may be provided in the hospital, at home or in a long-term care facility, or in the doctor’s office.
  • Aspects of palliative care, including physician visits and prescription medications, may be covered by private insurance.

 

Both

  • Both hospice and palliative care involve multidisciplinary teams of professionals, often including physicians, nurses, social workers, pain management specialists, and spiritual care personnel.
  • Both hospice and palliative care focus on the patient as well as the family unit.

 

If you or a loved one are facing a serious illness, hospice care or palliative care may be beneficial. Care Answered can help you understand and select the most appropriate care during a stressful time. For additional information, give us a call or contact us via email.

Care to Talk

Gathering with Loved Ones? Talk About Healthcare Decisions this Holiday Season

The words “We have to talk” can fill a person with dread, especially when spoken by a spouse or partner. But it is vitally important to have conversations about healthcare decision-making before we are faced with making those difficult decisions. The holiday season brings family and friends closer together and can present the perfect opportunity to talk about our wishes should we become unable to make healthcare decisions for ourselves.

Benjamin Franklin famously said that only two things are certain in life — death and taxes. While both are unfortunately unavoidable, we can promise that no one has ever died from discussing healthcare decisions. The most important thing you need to do is give your loved ones peace of mind by selecting your health care proxy.

What is a Healthcare Proxy?

The New York Health Care Proxy Law allows you to appoint someone you trust — for example, a family member or close friend – to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to make decisions yourself. By appointing a health care agent, you can make sure that health care providers follow your wishes. Click here to learn more.

How do you talk about healthcare decisions?

Once you have selected your proxy, be sure to inform that person about his or her role, and let him or her know about your wishes should an illness or injury leave you unable to make your own healthcare decisions.

It’s not taboo. Just bring it up at the dinner table. Try these opening lines:

“My faith is important to me and I don’t want to have….”

“I’m allergic to …. Please make sure that I don’t receive that medicine”

Talk about what you value, and be as specific as you can. You might say:

“I don’t want to ever be sustained by machines,” or “I have to be able to live independently,” or “There are new health findings every day. I would like to be kept alive until they find a cure.”

Points to remember about healthcare decisions

The discussion with your healthcare proxy can and should be ongoing. You cannot imagine every possible scenario but if the person you select as your healthcare proxy understands your values and knows the types of life-sustaining treatments that you would want, as well as those interventions that you would not want, your proxy will feel confident that they are following your wishes rather than having to decide your fate on their own.

This is not a contest of who loves you the most; rather, it’s about who will be able to carry out your wishes.

It is a tremendous burden to expect your loved ones to make these decisions for you if you have not expressly told them your wishes. Help them be your proxy.

Take time this holiday season to begin your discussion. And fill out your healthcare proxy form. Think of it as a compassionate gift to your loved ones should they ever have to make an important healthcare decision for you.

 

November is National Family Caregivers Month – Recognizing “Caregiving Around the Clock”

Are you one of the 43.5 million Americans who provide care for a loved one – a spouse, parent or in-law with Alzheimer’s disease, or a special needs child? AARP estimates that the economic value of so-called “informal caregiving” is more than $470 billion annually. But that pales in comparison to the physical and emotional toll that caregiving can take.

November is National Family Caregivers Month, recognizing “Caregiving Around the Clock.” One month hardly seems like enough time to acknowledge the many sacrifices inherent in providing care for a loved one. The average age of the informal caregiver is 49, which means that very often these individuals define the sandwich generation, caring for both aging parents and children under 18. Family caregivers spend about 24 hours each week providing care, often on top of full- or part-time jobs. No wonder they are exhausted!

Nathan Anderson

Most caregivers live within 10 miles of the care recipient. But long distance caregivers live an average of 450 miles away from care recipients, and studies show that emotional distress for the caregiver increases with distance from the recipient.

If you are a family caregiver, you know that support is essential. In particular, support communities and groups can help by providing you with a safe space to share feelings, frustrations and victories.  Here are some tips:

  • Find others (a friend, family member, or paid aide) who can provide you with a weekend, day, or even an hour off.
  • Find a caregiver’s support group in your community or online.
  • Take time for you. Exercise, read a book, take a walk, or do something that makes you happy, even if only for a few minutes each day.
  • Remember to take care of yourself, or you will not be able to take care of your loved ones who are depending on you.

The Caregiver Action Network is an excellent online resource which is offering tips for family caregivers all month long. Care Answered is also here to help. We can answer your questions and assist you in navigating the healthcare bureaucracy, identifying your options, helping you understand insurance coverage, and enabling you to obtain the most appropriate care for your loved ones.  Then YOU can spend more time being a husband, wife, daughter or son, and less time as a caregiver.

References:

https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-statistics-demographics

http://www.caregiveraction.org/national-family-caregivers-month