The Myth of Palliative Care

hospice_PalliativeNovember is recognized as National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Is there a difference between the two?

Yes — palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on providing, “relief from the symptoms of stress of a serious illness,” as PDF Research Advocate Kirk Hall explained in an earlier blog.  Although often mistaken for end-of-life care, the definition of palliative care is actually very broad. On the other hand, hospice care is designed to improve quality of life through pain relief and symptom management for individuals facing end-of-life. It is important to understand the difference between the two types of care, and how both can benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.

Palliative Care
In the same blog post, Kirk also explained that for a person with Parkinson’s disease, palliative care, “encompasses care that begins at PD diagnosis and continues through death.” How can a person with Parkinson’s experience quality care that helps them to most effectively manage their disease?

  • Start by contacting PDF for help finding a movement disorder specialist. Call us at (800) 457-6676 or email us at
  • Build your health care team, which may include physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists, nutritionists and other professionals.
  • Get the facts about PD and take medications on time.
  • Know that PDF invests in training opportunities for health leaders (nurses, physical and occupational therapists) in the hopes of improving the lives of people with PD. Through our research grants, we also recently funded a conference to study palliative care in PD.

What about hospice? Can it play a role in PD care? In some cases, yes. Hospice is one type of end-of-life-care that falls under the broader of definition of lifelong palliative care.

Because many people live with PD for many years, it certainly is not something that needs to be discussed early on in the disease. But it is important to know that it is an option. Often, because hospice care is associated with a terminal disease such as cancer, individuals in the Parkinson’s community may not realize it is available to them.

In the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease, hospice can provide services and support to help a person to experience a peaceful death at home, surrounded by family and friends. Determining when the time is right to consider hospice services and how to get started, are difficult questions. Use the resources below to learn more.

Learn More
Do you have questions about the differences between palliative care and hospice? Take advantage of the PDF resources below, and contact the PDF HelpLine at (800) 457-6676 or for additional information.

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