Hospice vs Palliative Care


I first learned about hospice when my Mother-in-law developed brain tumors.  The hospice support was great for mom and for us.  Later when my Alzheimer’s Dad needed care I learned a bit more.

Good things to know and ask about:

Pros:  You or your loved one may save money because some things will now be covered expenses.  There will be more eyes on your loved one. You will have additional professionals to help with tough decisions. Hospice care becomes more about keeping the person comfortable and less about finding new treatments. Patients may be able to remain at home.

Cons or Concerns:  The added support does not mean you can expect them to now do everything. You still need to have private care givers or family members involved.  Hospice requires the person know they are terminal and some family members have difficulty with this.  Some treatments may be deemed no longer necessary.

Not all hospice is the same. So be sure to interview and get references if you are offered service, especially if the service is through an institution.  They may put the institutional concerns above yours.  The level of help varies State to State in USA.

Some Definitions:

Hospice is usually for a terminally ill person expected to live 6 months or less.  It provides support for family care givers as well as the ill person.

Palliative care can be for a chronically ill (not necessarily terminal) person of any age.

DNR:  Do Not Resuscitate:  This is a very personal decision and not to be made lightly.  If this is a choice made, be sure to post it in a clearly visible place near the patient and notify all staff/caregivers. EMT ambulance personal are required to try if they do not see the notice.

Who pays?

Medicaid or Medicare usually pays for Hospice and may pay for Palliative as well.  Check with your insurance provider to see who will pay and how much is covered.

Helpful informative websites:



Finally:  If possible talk with your ill loved one well in advance of making decisions on their behalf.  I was blessed to know my parent’s wishes before end of life choices came.  It eliminated a lot of stress.


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