Sadly, many older Americans die in facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes while receiving care inconsistent with their wishes. At-risk seniors must plan accordingly by letting their relatives, doctors, and other informal caregivers know their end-of-life preferences. When a loved one chooses to die at home, the family’s options include palliative care and hospice care. Although they share many similarities, palliative care and hospice care are not the same. This guide will help you honor your dying loved one’s wishes by choosing the best option for them.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is specialized medical care for those living with a life-threatening illness, for example, cancer. Delivered by licensed healthcare professionals in a setting that the family chooses, palliative care focuses on relieving pain and other symptoms while also providing a treatment intended to cure the illness. As a form of supplemental care, it addresses the recipient’s current care needs by focusing more on their quality of life – and that of fellow family members.

Who Might Benefit from Palliative Care?

Provided in a hospital, nursing home, outpatient palliative care clinic, or private residence, palliative care is a resource for anyone living with a life-threatening illness such as cancer, heart failure, COPD, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc. Although palliative care may be beneficial at any stage of illness, it is best when provided soon after the person is diagnosed.

Who Provides Palliative Care?

While coordinating care as a team, highly trained palliative care specialists provide medical, social, emotional, spiritual, and practical support to the patient and their families. Depending on the level of care needed, palliative care team members may include specialized doctors, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, trained volunteers, faith leaders, and others.

What is Hospice Care?

Like palliative care, hospice care focuses on the care, comfort, and quality of life of someone with a serious illness who is approaching the end of life. While also using a team approach, hospice care typically includes many of the same healthcare specialists and support services. However, unlike palliative care, hospice care is provided when a cure is no longer an option, and the patient has a life expectancy of six months or less.

Where is Hospice Care Provided?

As with palliative care, hospice care is not tied to a specific place. It is typically offered in two main types of settings: a facility (nursing home, hospital, hospice center, etc.) or a private residence.

Regardless of which care setting the family chooses, a hospice team member will visit routinely to coordinate care. In addition, a resource person is typically available by phone or video chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Does Medicare Pay for Hospice Care?

Both palliative care and hospice care may be covered by Medicare and other insurance providers under certain conditions, including inpatient care, outpatient care, and mental health counseling services.

What is Hospice Support Care?

Although palliative care and hospice care provide much-needed support, a person dying at home typically relies on family and friends to deliver many aspects of their day-to-day care. Professional hospice support care refers to non-medical services that an outside source – typically a home care agency – provides whenever family caregivers need to take a break.

Professional hospice support care services may include:

  • Companionship
  • Meals
  • Transportation
  • Light housework
  • Medication reminders
  • Bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene

An Extended Family in Your Loved One’s Home

Although it is highly gratifying, caring for an aging loved one facing the end of life can take a physical and emotional toll on the entire family. When you need to take a well-deserved break, contact First In Care. Once you do, our compassionate caregivers will step in and provide your loved ones with the nurturing and companionship they deserve. While serving as an extended family in their home, our highly trained professionals understand what’s required to maintain a client’s quality of life, along with their dignity and self-esteem.

The caring professionals at First In Care can help you customize a care program based on your family’s needs and budget. Our in-home services support daily living activities that include personal hygiene, light housework, medication reminders, meals, companionship, and transportation. Our senior caregiving services are affordable, flexible, and always delivered in a seamless package that restores your peace of mind. To learn more now about our private home health and concierge services in Bradenton and Manatee County, Florida, please visit