Have you or someone you know been living with a serious diagnosis? Do you know that you may be a candidate for palliative care? You matter here and we want to help you navigate the unchartered waters of living with a serious or terminal diagnosis. If you have questions specific to your needs, feel free to add this in the comments or the contact us form.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is a specialized approach to healthcare that focuses on providing support, relief, and improved quality of life for individuals facing serious illnesses. It aims to address physical, emotional, and spiritual needs while considering the goals and preferences of patients and their families. Palliative care is not the same as hospice care. In this blog post, we will explore five key points to help you understand the importance and benefits of palliative care.
5 Things You Should Know about Palliative Care
- Holistic Approach to Care: Palliative care takes a holistic approach to provision of care. The needs of the whole person and his or her unique circumstances are considered in a treatment plan. It aims to manage and alleviate physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, and breathlessness. Additionally, it addresses emotional distress, including anxiety, depression and spiritual concerns. By providing comprehensive support, palliative care strives to improve the overall well-being of patients and enhance their quality of life.
- Collaboration and Communication: Effective communication and collaboration among healthcare professionals, patients, and their families are fundamental in palliative care. This approach encourages open and honest discussions about treatment options, prognosis, and end-of-life decisions. By involving patients and their families in decision-making, palliative care promotes shared decision-making which respects individual values and preferences.
- Palliative Care is Possible Across the Disease Continuum: Contrary to common misconception, palliative care is not limited to end-of-life or terminal care. It can be provided at any stage of a serious illness, regardless of the prognosis. Early integration has shown to improve outcomes, enhance symptom management, and support patients and their families in coping with the challenges of having a serious diagnosis. Palliative care can be integrated alongside curative treatment and can adapt as the patient’s needs evolve.
- Support for Family Caregivers: Palliative care recognizes the crucial role of family caregivers. It provides support, education, and resources to family members. It helps them navigate the physical, emotional, and practical challenges that caregivers face. This support for the entire family fosters an environment for all those impacted by a single disease.
- Enhancing Quality of Life: At the core of palliative care is the aim to enhance the quality of life for individuals with serious illnesses. By managing symptoms effectively, patients are able to engage in meaningful activities and maintain a sense of autonomy and dignity. It also offers psychosocial support, counseling, and spiritual care, promoting the care of the mind and body and soul.
If any of these key points resonate with you or perhaps someone you know, the next step is to ask your clinician if you qualify for palliative care. Oftentimes, your primary care clinician will refer you to a palliative care specialist or a local agency that provides these services.
If you are a potential candidate for palliative care, you can also use this resource for additional information. You may also want to understand what benefits are covered by your insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. Resources for understanding your healthcare benefits include case management staff working with your local provider or hospital (in the event you have been hospitalized) and online resources such as The National Council on Aging’s website page entitled, Benefits Checkup.
Whether you are healthy or living with a serious diagnosis or a terminal diagnosis, it is important to understand what help you may need and how to access it when you do. Living with the End in Mind is meant to equip you with all that you need to bring the best of life to the end of life.