It is common for people to mix up the terms “hospice” and “palliative care,” making it difficult for individuals to find the services that are needed. Even though these terms are often used as synonyms, it there are differences in terms of patient eligibility and the benefits offered.

Here is a breakdown to help you determine the service that you need:

What is Hospice?

Hospice services are designed to care for a person that has a condition that limits the length of their life. These services are supportive of the patient, caregivers, and their families. The goal is to address not only the physical needs, but also the social, emotional, and spiritual needs of the individual. Medicare as well as most other health insurance plans provide a hospice benefit.

This service happens in the patient’s home or the facility where they live, allowing them to maximize time with their family and/or “age in place.”The focus of hospice care is to manage pain and minimize symptoms to improve comfort as much as possible for the duration of the person’s life. The theory is that quality of life is just as important as the length of life.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is available for patients whose conditions are life-threatening, but they may also be chronic, or curable diseases. Patients can be at any stage of the disease. The goal is to relieve suffering and improve the overall quality of life for the patient. Examples of conditions that might be relieved by palliative care include Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and different types of cancers.

The main reason that palliative care stands out from hospice is that this care is available for patients who are not necessarily terminally ill. Hospice is a type of palliative care focused on people with who have less than six months to live. Hospice always falls under the category of palliative care, but palliative care isn’t necessarily hospice care.

How Are Hospice and Palliative Care Doctors Different?

Patients often wonder why they need to talk to a different type of doctor. Aren’t all doctors focused on alleviating pain and discomfort to improve the quality of life? Yes, medical professionals are looking for ways to help you achieve the relief that you need. But, palliative doctors and hospice providers have the unique training to cope with the common burdens associated with serious illnesses, including the management of chronic pain.

Are you looking for help with hospice or palliative care? Talk to our team at Windward Life Care so that we can help you find resources that you need.

John and Olga’s Story

November 11, 2016

In seeking a recommendation for an Aging Life Care™ Manager, families frequently turn to the trusted professionals that advise them on other important matters. In over 12 years of service to the San Diego community, we’ve had the honor of supporting hundreds of families through the caregiving journey.

John and OlgaWhen Windward Life Care was hired to evaluate his situation, John was a 90 year old widow living alone in his San Diego home. Family and friends were concerned about his depression, his driving, and physical changes they were witnessing. Together we developed a plan of care that supported John’s goal of staying at home for as long as possible, while considering future needs. His Care Manager established a relationship of trust with John, his family, and other members of his support network, including his long-time physician, and attorney. We served John for over four years, and he formed a lasting bond with his caregiver Olga, who provided much-needed companionship and assistance while he he was living at home, and after he moved into an assisted living apartment two years later. She worked closely with his Care Manager, who evaluated and responded to John’s changing needs. When his memory and physical health began to decline, Windward Life Care facilitated essential communications between John’s family, his physicians, and the staff of his assisted living community. When difficult decisions needed to be made, John and his family could rely upon the Care Manager for information and support. Through the years, we responded to emergencies when they happened, but also attended to the joyful aspects of John’s life, such as attendance at weekly church services, and frequent visits from friends. We mourned his passing with his loved ones, and felt grateful for the opportunity to have walked this long journey with a gentleman such as John.

“The responsibility for John weighed heavily on me as a long-distance caregiver, as he was a father-figure to me. The issues seemed to change daily, and their urgency increased. John’s agitation at his losses, and my anxiety for his safety, his health, and his peace of mind escalated until we were both near despair. Windward Life Care was nothing short of a god-send. The problems we faced couldn’t go away, but the distress, the feelings of inadequacy, and our fears of mistaken action did go away. John died at peace. I now live at peace knowing that the care he received from Windward Life Care was without parallel, and exactly what he needed”. -SEJ

It is estimated that approximately one million people in the Unites States have Parkinson’s Disease, and researchers are working hard to understand more about the cause and cure for this disease. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, then it is essential to consider how daily habits may be altered over time.

Though there is not a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, there are methods that can be used to manage the symptoms so the person who is affected  can maintain his or her independence as much as possible.

Tips for Independence at Home

Many people want to live in their home as long as possible. If this is your goal, then you might consider these tools and resources that can be used to maintain independence in your home:

  • Assistive Devices: As the physical challenges arise, assistive devices might be needed. These items can be as simple as safety bars installed in the bathroom. Or, there are high-tech options such as computers that can be used to manage appliances in the home.
  • Service Dogs: Some people with Parkinsons’ benefit from an animal companion. Service dogs can help with mood management, as well as performing small tasks around the house, such as picking up items that have fallen on the floor.
  • Leaving the House: Connecting with other people is important for physical and emotional well-being. Though driving ability may deteriorate over time, this doesn’t mean you have to stay home. There is special public transportation available to individuals with disabilities, in addition to non-profit and for-profit ride-sharing options.

Working with Your Doctor

One of the best things that you can do is work with your doctor to ensure you are accessing the medications and other therapies that will most benefit you. There are certain medications that can be used in conjunction with exercise routines to improve physical capabilities. Your doctor might recommend activities such as walking, yoga, swimming, boxing, dancing, cycling, and more.

The most important thing is that you find a plan that works best for your individual needs. At Windward Life Care, we offer the support that you need, helping you to find resources that can support your health and lifestyle. Contact us right away to learn more about the services that are available for you.