We received a question from a member of our online community this week about palliative care, so we thought it would be a great question to pose to our Facebook audience:
After reviewing the comments, we realized there is a general confusion about palliative and how it differs from hospice care. These misconceptions could possibly affect the level of care patients choose to receive and impact the attitude with which families face pain management. At the LIVESTRONG Foundation, we believe that barriers to care, including barriers brought on by stigma and misconceptions, need to be addressed head on. That’s why we’ve broken down the differences between palliative and hospice care for you.
Palliative care (also called “Quality of Life” care) is about reducing discomfort and relieving symptoms or problems caused by diseases. This type of care can take place during any stage of your cancer. The focus is to improve the quality of life for the individual and the family as well. Let’s be clear, palliative care is NOT about giving up on the fight. It is about helping you make it through your fight. When you receive palliative care, a team of professionals is at your side to provide you with any services you might need. Let’s say that you are going through chemotherapy, and you begin to endure severe side-effects. Your health care team can administer medication to reduce your suffering. Maybe you have finished cancer treatment and need help adjusting into your regular physical lifestyle. Palliative care can offer physical therapy to help you get back into your routine. Or maybe you have just been diagnosed with cancer and you begin to experience depression. Palliative care can provide you assistance in finding a counselor or support group to help. It is about living your life. What is better than having a team of professionals at your side to help make you comfortable every step of the way?
Hospice care, while it has the similar goal of reducing pain, is intended to help a patient transition into the final stages of life and is usually reserved for those with a less than six month life-expectancy. Hospice services can be provided in a hospital setting, in a special hospice facility and even at home. Hospice is a wonderful way for patients to deal with pain and live out the remainder of their lives surrounded by family and friends in a caring environment.
No one should have to live a life in pain, no matter what stage of cancer you are in. If you are currently suffering from cancer-related pain and are interested in what palliative care options might be available for you, we encourage you to contact us. We are here to inform and connect you with those that can help. Call 1-855-220-7777 or go online to fill out our Request For Help. We are here to help!