What Is Hospice Care (and Why That Matters to Your Family)?

Posted: 11/20/2019 8:00 AM by Interim HealthCare

Hospice and palliative care provide critical care to patients (and their families) facing serious illnesses. But while the CDC reports that approximately 1.5 million Americans receive hospice care each year, and the World Health Organization reports that 20 million people around the world receive palliative care each year, these crucial services are still a mystery to many people.


In honor of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, this blog will introduce you to hospice and palliative care, and help you understand how these services may be able to help you and your family during a difficult time.  

What is hospice care? 

Sometimes, serious illnesses reach the point where there is no possible cure, or patients choose to no longer receive treatment. In these instances, hospice care is often chosen to provide care and comfort as the disease or condition progresses. Patients who choose hospice care understand that their illnesses are not being slowed or stopped by their medical treatments. 


Patients are eligible for hospice care once a doctor believes they have 6 months or less to live once the illness runs its course. Hospice isn’t a destination, but a type of care. Many patients elect to receive hospice care at home so that they can be as comfortable as possible. 

With hospice care, a team of trained professionals provide the medical, emotional, and spiritual support needed by the patient and his or her family. Medicare and insurance most often pay for part or all of hospice care. 

What is palliative care? 

Palliative care is often confused with hospice care, although they are each appropriate in distinctly different situations. Palliative care is a resource for those who are living with a serious illness, including cancer, heart failure, dementia, COPD, Parkinson's disease, and others. Best begun at the point of diagnosis, patients may choose palliative care at any point during their treatment.


Palliative care is a complementary care to the medical treatment for serious and chronic diseases and medical conditions. It helps with symptoms of the illness, as well as the stress and emotional burden of living with a serious illness. The primary goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for patients and their families. 

How can hospice or palliative care help my family?

Dealing with a serious illness in your loved one can be incredibly stressful for everyone. At times, you may feel as if you have lost your voice or ability to make active decisions. Depending on the specific situation, hospice and palliative care provide the patient and his or her family with a voice, actively engaging you in the decisions made for care. This alone can significantly ease some of the stress families feel during difficult times. 


In addition, the flexibility to receive palliative or hospice care at home provides great comfort to patients and their families. Rather than the sterile, cold environment of a hospital, patients can be surrounded by family and familiar things as they receive treatment. This puts everyone at ease, and can also result in less stress about travel (sometimes to unfamiliar places) and the costs associated with parking, meals, etcetera that come with frequent hospital visits. 


While a hospice or palliative care provider will be on site every day (it’s important to note that every situation is unique), you and your family will also have access to your provider 24/7 in case of questions or concerns. This provides incredible peace of mind for patients and their families. 


Often, hospice and/or palliative care can also include family counseling to help your family talk through grief and handle the complex emotions that arise during a stressful and emotional time. This is often one of the most powerful benefits of these treatments. 

We are honored to provide critical care for you and your family.

At Interim HealthCare, our team of passionate, skilled hospice and palliative care professionals are honored to care for your loved ones. We are committed to providing exceptional care, while keeping your loved ones in the comfort of home. To learn more about our hospice care, palliative care, and additional home care services, visit our website.