Palliative care is a type of treatment for people diagnosed with serious illnesses and conditions. The goal of palliative care is to reduce the pain and suffering that result from the illness or condition, regardless of the diagnosis or prognosis. Palliative care is provided by a trained team of doctors, nurses and other care professionals, who work as a team to provide the best care possible to improve the patient’s quality of life.
Palliative care is distinct from other types of medicine because it is mostly designed to make the patient comfortable and improve their quality of life, rather than addressing the disease itself. Palliative care is often used interchangeably with the term “hospice care,” and the two phrases mean much the same thing. However, hospice care is a specific type of palliative care used primarily on patients with less than six months to live.
Is Palliative Care Right For Me Or My Loved One?
Palliative care may be the right choice if you or a loved one is suffering from a serious illness or chronic condition. Serious illnesses may include: heart disease, cancer, kidney failure, lung disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and other chronic situations. Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a disease, and can work with any curative treatment you’re receiving.
Palliative care will never interfere with other treatments and can be helpful for a patient’s mental security and physical well-being. Palliative care is not the same as “giving up.” A lot of patients think that when they go into palliative care, it’s a last resort. Nothing could be further from the truth! Palliative care is great for making patients comfortable and improving their quality of life no matter what the outlook.
Where Do I Go For Palliative Care?
Palliative care can be administered almost anywhere. Whether the patient is in a hospital, a nursing home, an assisted living environment, or even right at home, palliative care arrangements can be made to make sure that the patient gets the care they need. There will likely be several doctors in your area who specialize in providing palliative care.
For the most part, affordable palliative care is best provided in a hospital, where the team of doctors and specialists can access multiple patients in short periods of time, and the patient can be monitored closely so the team can help them best.
What Does Palliative Care Include?
Different providers have different methods of administrating care. Often, the treatment depends on the team of specialists. The team can consist of professionals from a variety of medical disciplines.
Massage specialists, nutrition experts, and pharmacists, along with other experts can constitute your team. Each provider has their own team, but the goal of all of these teams is to provide the best all-around care possible and relieve the patient’s pain and suffering.
Will My Insurance Cover Palliative Care?
Most insurance providers cover palliative care in some part; some plans cover all of the care, while others cover part of it. Medicare and Medicaid also have provisions for palliative care. If you’re not sure if your insurance provider will cover the care, call them or consult with a social worker or a palliative care consultant, who can help you figure out what kind of care is covered and how to get you or your loved one the care they need.
Will I Have To Give Up My Normal Doctor?
Absolutely not! The goal of a palliative care team is not to supplant, but to supplement the care you ordinarily receive. Often, palliative care patients will have teams of specialists who work together with their normal physicians to provide the best care possible. Palliative care specialists will consult with your doctor about the treatment you are already receiving and base their actions on that.
Does Palliative Care Conflict With Curative Treatment?
No it does not. As a matter of fact, patients very frequently receive both. Palliative care alone is only recommended for patients who are certain that there is no cure for their condition. Palliative care is actually often a recommended supplement for curative options. Time and time again, examples show that patients who are feeling better and have a more positive outlook get better! The goal of palliative care specialists is to look at a person as a whole, not just the parts of them that are sick.
What Are Some Benefits of Palliative Care?
Palliative care has a wide range of benefits for all sorts of patients. Patients who undergo palliative care can expect substantially relieved stress, on both them and their loved ones, who no longer have to worry about the patient’s excessive suffering. Patients experience substantially relieved pain and the treatment of particularly nasty symptoms, including nausea, headaches and consistent muscle aches.
Palliative care professionals recognize that going through an illness is tough, and their goal is to make sure that they can make it as easy and comfortable as possible for you, no matter for how long or what the prognosis is. And it’s not all about your body. Oftentimes, a patient undergoes substantial mental trauma too when confronted with an unpleasant medical condition.
Palliative caregivers are there to provide emotional support, not just to the patient, but also to loving family members who are distressed to see their loved ones in pain.
Palliative care isn’t for everyone, but it can be a great choice for people suffering from serious illnesses or chronic conditions. Palliative care specialists help the patient as a whole and work to relieve the sometimes substantial pain and suffering that can accompany long physical ailments. Palliative care isn’t a last resort; it’s a treatment method that can go hand in hand with curative treatments and assistance from your normal physician.
When you see a loved one in pain, the most natural thing to do is to want to help them and relieve their suffering. It’s this impulse that lies at the root of palliative care, and explains why it’s such a good option for many patients and their families. If you’re interested in palliative care or more information, contact your physician or a palliative care specialist in your area.
Updated: March 28, 2014