Is Palliative Care the Same as Hospice Care?

If you or a loved one are approaching your golden years and want to explore all of your options for care as you or they age, you may be left with some questions. There are several different types of care associated with the elderly, and the slight distinctions may be confusing.

If you are looking for clarity on the different types of care that are available to you or your loved one, and what makes the different types of care distinct, read on. Specifically, here are the differences and a few similarities between palliative care and hospice care:

Palliative Care

Palliative care provides comfort and can have curative intent. The goal of palliative care is to provide relief from symptoms and stress of a serious illness.  Palliative care can be provided at the time of diagnosis, at the same time as curative treatment, or at the end of life.

Palliative care can actually happen at any stage of a disease or illness and generally takes place in the hospital. Palliative care is generally paid by a combination of insurance and the patient. 

Hospice Care

Hospice care is comfort care provided for patients who are in the last six months or less of their lives. As opposed to palliative care, there is no curative component of hospice care. The entire focus of hospice care is to provide comfort and symptom relief to patients without any curative treatment based on the prognosis of six months or less.

Hospice care can take place in a hospice center, nursing home, or in the patient’s home. Hospice care is paid for by a combination of Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance. 


While palliative care and hospice care are distinct in the prognosis of the patient and the ability to provide curative care versus comfort care, there are also several similarities between them. While the main focus on hospice care is to provide comfort care, palliative care also provides comfort care in addition to possible curative treatments.

In addition, both types of care offer symptom relief for the illness or condition of the patient. Both types of care also help to reduce the stress associated with the diagnosis or situation. Palliative care and hospice care also both aim to provide several types of relief for patients, including physical relief and psychosocial relief. 

Both types of care also employ interdisciplinary teams to provide these services to patients. Team may consist of doctors, nurses, aides, therapists, and more. The teams work together to assist the patient and family with any physical, emotions, and/or spiritual issues they are facing during a difficult time.   

Overall, while palliative care and hospice care are quite distinct, there are several places of overlap that may lead to confusion when it comes to what type of care is most appropriate for you or your loved one. If you are exploring your options for your own care or the care of a loved one, be sure to consult with your doctor for the best plan.

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