It is a fact that at some point most of us will have to deal with deciding on the best end-of-life care options for either a loved one or ourselves.  It is a daunting and emotional task so here is some information on the types of end-of-life care options to help you in your decision-making process.


Hospice care is for those individuals who are suffering from a terminal illness and is not expected to live for more than six months.  The primary purpose of hospice care is to provide pain relief and comfort for the patient while also helping families prepare for the end of life of their loved one.  Hospice care does not treat the disease, but treats the symptoms and the person.

Hospice care can take place in a variety of settings, including at home, in a nursing home, in a hospital, or in a specialized hospice facility.  No matter the setting, hospice care provides professional caregivers to look after the patient’s every need.  As well as doctors and nurses, hospice care also includes family members, clergy, counselors, or social workers who can help ease the grief and emotions related to the dying process.

Palliative Care

Palliative care is for those individuals dealing with a serious, non-life-threatening illness.  The primary purpose of palliative care is to provide pain relief for the patient.

Palliative care helps people handle the symptoms of long-term illnesses including cancer, kidney disease, AIDs, or with the side effects of the treatments for the illness.  It does not replace other treatments but rather helps the patient and his or her family deal with issues such as nausea, shortness of breath or nerve pain.  Palliative care workers can also provide support and help when an illness makes it more difficult for the patient to work, to play, to get around and to simply handle those tasks associated with everyday life.  They also provide support when the patient becomes depressed or emotionally exhausted.  The purpose is to allow the patient to live and enjoy as active a life as possible.

Board and Care Homes

Board and care homes are small, private institutions providing meals and personal care for only a few residents.  Staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but does not include medical staff like doctors and nurses.  Board and care homes provide a more home-like atmosphere for the residents with a less structured schedule.  One clear benefit of this type of end-of-life care is the ability to have a closer relationship with the care providers as the staff to resident ratio is typically very low.

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities are designed for those seniors who need some assistance with the regular daily activities associated with a normal life, allowing them to maintain a maximum level of freedom for the longest period of time.  The residents typically have their own apartments, or their own rooms combined with shared common areas.

Nursing Homes

A nursing home provides its residents with both personal and nursing care.  Personal care includes providing meals, and assistance with daily activities.  The residents receive more hands-on care as health care is a primary concern.  The residents’ days tend to be more structured with medical staff on site.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Continuing care retirement communities provide various levels of care in the same location.  As an individual’s needs increase, they can move from an independent home to an apartment complete with assisted living care.  From there they can move to nursing home type situation.  Services related to health care and recreation programs are provided for all residents able to participate.

One Last Thought

If you are looking into end-of-life care options for either yourself or a family member, start early so that you can take the time to determine which is the best choice for your situation.  Talk with your doctor and your family to get their advice.  Look around and decide which type of care and which facility will provide you with the ability to maximize the quality of your life.