Palliative Care or Hospice? Understanding the Difference
By Cassandra Hill
The demands placed on a caregiver can be overwhelming. Oftentimes we are unsure of various levels of care available and their differences. Today we will talk about keeping your loved one comfortable when they are facing chronic or terminal conditions. Quality of life is important throughout our life cycle but especially towards our later stage.
Hospice services are appropriate when an individual has a diagnosis that a doctor has deemed a life expectancy of six months or less. Common diagnoses include:
- Renal disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Liver disease
There are other disease processes that meet hospice criteria. If you are unsure of your loved one’s eligibility most hospice providers offer a free evaluation. Keep in mind hospice means you’ve decided to stop aggressive treatment for a terminal illness. When hospice is chosen your loved one will have a hospice team generally including a doctor, nurse, social worker, nurse aide, chaplain, and bereavement coordinator. For many families, hospice offers calm during a storm. The goal of hospice is to keep patients comfortable. Oftentimes hospice eliminates trips to the hospital since the hospice team comes to the patient during times of distress. This is often a relief when someone has been sick for a long period of time and has taken several trips to the hospital. Respite services are also available with hospice services. Respite provides the caregiver the opportunity to relax and unwind from their caregiver responsibilities.
While there are similarities between hospice and palliative care, they are not the same. Palliative care does provide comfort care however can be done with individuals who are desiring aggressive treatment. Palliative care alone does not offer an interdisciplinary team. Which option is best hospice or palliative care? There isn’t a matter of one being better or worse. Make the decision based on your loved one’s needs. Do they want life-sustaining treatment? If so, hospice wouldn’t be a good choice. Whatever decision is made you can rest easy knowing your loved one is at peace.
There are holistic tools that can be utilized whether you choose hospice or palliative care. Aromatherapy is great for managing pain while alleviating anxiousness and depression. The following essential oils can act as analgesics (acting to relieve pain):
Enhance your mind taking away anxiousness and depressed mood with:
- Ylang ylang
- Rose geranium
Please use caution with essential oils and always apply with a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba. If you choose to apply essential oils topically only use oils that are pure with no additives. Another option is using a diffuser to spread the essential oils throughout an area. This is a great option for mood stabilization. Turn your bathroom into a spa like atmosphere with applying the oils and diffusing the room.
Remember being a caregiver is a tough job and you must take care of yourself. Wishing you health and happiness!
About Cassandra Hill, M.A. Gerontology, Certified Wellness Coach: Cassandra owns and operates Holistic Living Consulting LLC, a wellness consulting business, helping individuals on their path to healthy living. The business also develops senior wellness programs for senior living providers. She has a Master’s degree in Gerontology and is a Certified Wellness Coach through Spencer Institute.