Introduction to Palliative and Hospice Care


Palliative care, also known as end-of-life, or comfort care, is a specialized form of health care for patients who have life-threatening illness.

It can be provided at the same time as treatments meant to treat or cure the disease.

The goal of Palliative care is to enhance patients’ quality of life in a wholistic manner.  Symptoms such as pain, nausea, loss of appetite and confusion are prevented if possible, and treated with close attention. 

In addition, the emotional and spiritual needs of the patients and their families are supported. Palliative care prioritizes patient dignity and respects the social and cultural needs of the patients and families, which often includes help with advance planning and coordination of care among the caregivers involved (which may include volunteers, social workers and spiritual leaders in addition to medical staff).

Palliative care may be appropriate when the illness is diagnosed, throughout treatment, during follow-up, and at the end of life.


Hospice is a form of palliative care which is usually offered only when the patient is expected to live 6 months or less.

Hospice care can be arranged in a patient’s home or in inpatient hospice units.

Hospice care is appropriate when the patient, loved ones and the doctor decide together that the patient can no longer be helped by curative treatment.

The philosophy of hospice is to affirm life, and neither hasten nor postpone death.  The care focuses solely on supporting comfort and quality of life at the final stage of life. In essence, Hospice helps patients live out their remaining days to the fullest and to die on their own terms.

Have you had an experience dealing with Palliative or Hospice care?  Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.


You may also be interested in:

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A Hospice Reflection

Dying Process – Dehydration

End of Life Nutrition

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Modifying Your Bathroom for Safety 

Pick the Right Shower Chair or Bath Bench

Make a Living Will/Health Care Directive

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4 thoughts on “Introduction to Palliative and Hospice Care

  1. Very informative article on palliative care and hospice care. To be honest, I had never heard of palliative care before reading your article, so you have taught me something new.

    It is so hard to handle a situation where a loved one is sick, potentially dying and unable to care for themselves any longer. My grandmother passed away last year and she had started to lose her memory and didn’t recognize us anymore about a year before her passing.

    It was heartbreaking to watch and we are so grateful to the wonderful women that took care of her needs in those final days.

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jess. It’s particularly hard when our loved ones become confused and lose their memory. My Mom died from cirrhosis of the liver, and she had episodes of terrible confusion and disorientation at times (due to the ammonia build up from a non-functioning liver). Of course, she usually didn’t realize she was confused, so that part was hardest on those around her.

  2. Greetings,

    I have had experience dealing with both Palliative & Hospice care.
    About two years ago my sister was diagnosed with ALS. A specialist doctor was right up front about it: 3-5 years & she’s dead.
    Basically, fiscally well off & an independent woman with amazing husband went from excellent shape to the point she could barely talk or walk by herself. She was only in her 30’s.
    This is one of those one in a million rare diseases with no returning point or recovery.
    Luckily we have so many supportive relatives around us, we arranged everything for her. And I’m happy for her because before she left she got a chance to see everyone & she was supported all the way.
    Ultimately we all die at some point, it’s only natural.
    On the other hand, two teenage girls must grow up now without their mother. It’s very sad.


    1. That is a heartbreaking story, Henry. Your sister was so young and ALS is a miserable unrelenting disease. I hope that Hospice care was helpful for her, in that they kept her as comfortable as possible and helped her and the family make best use of the time she had left.

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