If your loved one has cancer, or any other terminal illness, it is important to understand what support is available to you. Most people are aware of hospice as a resource for end of life and palliative care as an option.
Palliative Care is not the same as Hospice Care
Many people believe the terms palliative care and hospice are the same. Although they do share a few things in common, they are different types of care.
Palliative care is ordered by the patient’s doctor and is covered in part by many insurance plans. It can be started as early as the time of diagnosis for extra support, in addition to any other medical care the patient already receives or wants to seek. The palliative care team will support you and your family by helping with physical needs your loved one has that are affecting their quality of life and comfort. Palliative care is also there to help with the emotional, social and spiritual needs and the patient and their family members and caregivers.
Hospice care shares many goals of palliative care in providing your loved one as well as your family with the dignity and comfort they need for this difficult time in their lives. However, hospice is for people who are in later stages of their illness.
When my father-in-law became ill, he underwent countless treatments for 5 long years, including radiation that made him sick, and 12 major surgeries that resulted in the complete removal of his lower jaw and most of his face.. Toward the end, he was tired of fighting. It was time to help Bill enjoy what was left of his life with comfort and dignity. My husband, his mother and brother were blessed with a great team of compassionate palliative care nurses who provided care for Bill and support to his family.
When the time came in which the end was near, and Bill lapsed into a coma, we appreciated the loving care provided by the hospice workers. they answered our questions, took care of everything to ease the burden on the family, and help Bill feel comfortable, and pass as peacefully as possible.
My mother-in-law, Lois became ill with a completely unrelated cancer six months later. She endured a serious surgery to remove her tumor, but of course, the doctors could not remove the entire tumor, and it quickly grew back. Lois also suffered through unsuccessful radiation. She went downhill much faster, due to constant seizures, and it was decided to start palliative care. It was comforting to know that we could reach out to kind palliative care nurses who came by whenever we needed them to help with Lois’s condition.
When it became time for hospice to intervene, it was such a blessing to have nurses come out to the house whenever we needed support. Especially during the more difficult times. It was so nice to never have to worry about hospice billing help. The nurses took care of everything, and we, as a family were able to focus on loving Lois and help her transition peacefully. We took great comfort knowing her husband was there to greet her and take her to heaven with him.