Families who face end-of-life decisions for a beloved member of the family, also face frustration and confusion as they navigate health systems to find the most appropriate care. End stages may last for months or years, so it’s helpful for family members to learn as much as they can about their loved one’s illnesses and health challenges. Accepting changes in their loved one’s appearance or behavior is just one of many new challenges that families face.
Family members may need to make adjustments in routines or reverse caregiver roles as the illness progresses. Finding local organizations that support a particular disease, can be helpful resources in helping family members adjust to the change.
While many individuals use the terms palliative care and hospice care interchangeably, there are some distinctions between them. The confusion may come as a result of the fact that there are many similarities between them.
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses.Many of who live with severe pain. Palliative care is care that focuses on reducing symptoms of an illness to make the patient more comfortable. Palliative care provides for individuals of all ages and at all life stages, with the goals of improving quality of life for the duration of the illness. Palliative care also includes life-saving measures.
Hospice care also focuses on comfort-based care for patients whose physicians predict that their lives will terminate within six months. Hospice does not generally include life-saving measures, but under certain circumstances it may.
Differences between palliative care and hospice care pertain to location, timing, eligibility, and payment. Palliative care serves terminal and nonterminal patients, whereas hospice care is reserved for terminal patients. With some exceptions, palliative care is typically provided in a hospital or medical facility, whereas hospice care is provided in a family home. Nearly anyone with a serious illness qualifies for palliative care, but only those with a terminal illness qualify for hospice care. This is an important distinction because funding sources differ based on the type of care.
Kindred Healthcare, Inc., is the largest home health and hospice organization in the country. Kindred acquired another major provider of hospice services, Gentiva Health Services, in 2015. Kindred and the former Gentiva Health Services have facilities in the Houston area. Kindred Healthcare provides hospice care under the Kindred at Home program. Services may be provided at the patient’s home, an assisted living facility, a skilled nursing facility or any other place the patient calls home. Hospice care is comfort-focused and continues into the bereavement period.
Vitas Healthcare was named for the Latin word that means “life.” Vitas has been a leader in hospice care since 1978. The organization provides hospice care in the patient’s home or in other settings. Hospice workers help control pain, reduce anxiety, and offer support to patients and their families.
Accredited Home Hospices of America strives to be recognized as the premier provider of comprehensive and compassionate hospice care. They provide caregiver support, hospice education, symptom management, and spiritual and emotional support to help families prepare for another family member’s end-of-life stage.
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