What is Palliative Care?
In a nutshell, palliative care has one aim and that is to make life better for both the patient and the caregiver. Recent studies have shown that cancer patients who received palliative care had far less depression. They also lived significantly longer and had a better quality of life. Palliative care can include many types of treatment and falls under the umbrella of the entire medical team who is treating the terminally ill patient. It can include many specialists. It can include everything from helping to manage pain better to offering therapies designed to overcome depression.
Palliative care will also cover the various questions surrounding a difficult diagnosis. There may be concerns about end-of-life care, financial stress brought on by treatment, and how to deal with the difficulties of chemotherapy.
There are many illnesses where palliative care is appropriate. These include but are not limited to:
• Alzheimer’s Disease
• Congestive Heart Failure
• Kidney Failure
Palliative care is most often seen in the hospital, but it is also commonly given in nursing home settings or the patient’s home. In the home setting, the goal is to help family caregivers better care for their loved one.
Is There a Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care?
Hospice care is for patients who have a terminal illness and will only be expected to live 6 months or less. Another main difference is that once a patient enters Hospice care, all curative treatment has ceased. The aim then becomes comfort care in the final days and months of life.
Palliative care can be offered along with curative treatment. It may address the side effects and other difficulties of treatment. If the patient’s illness advances, palliative care can be turned over to Hospice care for the best comfort care possible as the end of life nears.
How Does One Receive Palliative Care?
Both the patient and the caregivers should discuss the option of palliative care with a physician who can then refer a social worker to assist. This person will help you get connected to the proper medical providers who will assist in the treatment plan. The medical team may include therapists, nutritionists, and chaplains to help care for all aspects of care. The team will be customized just for your loved one’s specific needs.
How Will Palliative Care Be Covered?
Cost is usually the biggest concern with any medical care. It causes great stress to many families and caregivers. You’ll be happy to know, however, that palliative care is often paid for through Medicaid or Medicare. The period of coverage may differ with each plan, so it’s good to consult with the social worker who can answer any questions about coverage.
Dealing with a difficult medical diagnosis is stressful for anyone. Palliative care can help seniors and their caregivers greatly improve the quality of life. As issues arise, you will have the support you need, and if the disease progresses, palliative care can easily be transitioned into Hospice care. This will assure everyone that symptoms will be managed and the best comfort care possible will be given to ensure the best quality of life. Even at the end of life, you have choices. Palliative care is an excellent choice and works beautifully with the physicians treating the illness.
For more information on palliative care, please contact us today!