Regardless of whether it’s you or a family member who is suffering from an illness or disease, it can be an extremely difficult and trying time, especially when you don’t have support around you. Curative treatments are of course important, but comfort and care are equally vital—both during the illness and as death approaches. With a huge 30% of all Medicare dollars being spent during the last twelve months of a patient’s life, it’s time we re-evaluated our approach to illness and put a greater focus on palliative and hospice care.
The terms ‘palliative care’ and ‘hospice care’ are often used interchangeably, but they are in fact different and they’re used at different times during the course of an illness. Understanding the importance of treatments and the differences between the two are vital if you or your loved one want to get the right care at the end of life.
The term ‘palliative’ comes from the Latin word ‘palliare’, meaning to cloak, and the purpose of palliative care is to provide as much comfort, pain relief, and support as possible. It’s designed to work in tandem with curative treatments and often begins at the point of diagnosis. It is offered to those suffering serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, AIDS, and dementia, and is used to prevent or treat the side effects and symptoms of both the original illness and of the curative treatment itself. As well as offering pain relief and help with any resulting subsidiary illnesses, support