People with terminal illnesses like cancer or heart problems tend to receive consistent treatment but the quality of the person’s life is not taken into consideration. Here is where palliative care comes into play. 

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a type of specialized medical caregiving method for a person with a terminal illness, where they receive medical care for the symptoms and the treatment intended to cure their illness. While providing the required treatment for the patient, palliative care focuses more on the welfare and comfort of the person undergoing treatment.  

Conditions That Can Be Treated Under Palliative Care

Conditions treated under palliative care have a chronic effect on the body. This type of care is recommended when the conditions cannot  be cured and have a terminal effect. Some of the conditions treated under palliative care are:

  • Heart-related conditions
  • Cancer
  • Chronic respiratory illnesses
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) 
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney and liver conditions
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Neurological disorders – Dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

Benefits of Palliative Care

Palliative care is recommended for patients undergoing life-threatening illnesses, including physical, physiological, and social illnesses. The range of care given to the patients differ with illness.

Palliative care is beneficial for both the patient and their family as the care provided makes them feel close to home, improving mental health for both. This is considered to be one of the key benefits of palliative care. Prioritizing the patient’s emotional needs helps them to have stable mental health, supporting them and their family. Palliative care at home is an added benefit of palliative care, as the person can undergo treatment with their family and loved ones – easing the mental stress they face.

Stages of Palliative Care

Preparing one for palliative care is not an easy task. It requires strength and a sense of acceptance, both physically and emotionally, to undergo this type of care. The care team for palliative care along with the family members of the patient work closely and make sure their loved one is feeling comfortable and is ready to undergo the treatment. 

The different levels of palliative care which everyone should understand before undergoing the treatment are:

1) Create a Plan – A complete plan of treatment is prepared for the patient by the healthcare provider. The patient also has the liberty to choose certain treatment plans or other aspects if they want to. 

2) Prepare Emotionally – Providing emotional support to the patient and their family is essential as mental health plays a major role in palliative care. A certified therapist will discuss the plans, explain the purpose and provide emotional support before the start of the plan.

3) Early Stage Care – The early-stage mainly focuses on the patient’s preferences, helping them stay as free and independent as possible. If the patient opts to receive care at home, they will be treated by visiting caregivers and by setting special equipment at home.

4) Late Stage Care – This is the stage where end-of-life care begins. The health condition of the person tends to grow worse and plans for hospice can possibly take place at this stage.

5) Supporting the family – The palliative care team offers support to the family for the loss of the person who underwent palliative care.  

Palliative vs. Hospice Care

People often get confused with palliative and hospice care, assuming both are the same. But they are not. Palliative care can be done during the treatment or diagnosis, but hospice care can only be provided once it is known that the person will not be able to survive the illness.

Some of the key similarities and differences between these care are:


Common Questions Palliative Care Hospice Care
Who is eligible to receive care? A person with a serious illness. A person with a serious illness who can only survive up to a few months.
What type of care is given for symptoms? Treatment is provided to relieve symptoms as much as possible. Treatment is provided to relieve symptoms as much as possible.
Will treatment be provided to cure the illness? Yes No, only treatment for symptom-relief can be given.
Will Medicare pay for the treatment? Depends on the plan and benefits the person has Medicare pays for some Hospice charges
Will private insurance pay for the treatment? Depends on the plan Depends on the plan
Duration of treatment Depends on the care required and the insurance plan Depends on the care required until the person’s body accepts treatment
Place of care
  • Home
  • Assisted living residence
  • Nursing facility
  • Hospital
  • Home
  • Assisted living residence
  • Nursing facility
  • Hospice facility
  • Hospital