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Palliative care relieves the side effects and symptoms of an illness, but does not replace your primary care for the illness. Its goal is to make you comfortable and improve your quality of life.
Palliative (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) care is treatment for the physical, emotional and psychological symptoms that can occur during a serious illness. In modern palliative care, doctors and care givers focus, not on curing or extending life, but on optimizing everyday life.
For instance, palliative care focuses on minimizing the life draining symptoms of cancer—the physical pain and the nausea and fatigue often caused by cancer and treatments like chemotherapy. Having an illness like cancer can also lead to depression and anxiety. In some cases, a palliative care giver may help seniors decide not to have chemotherapy because of all the side effect. For some seniors, it is better to live a shorter, more-full life, than a longer life in pain and discomfort.
Hospice care patients have a terminal illness that they are no longer receiving curative treatment for. They typically only have months to live. Palliative care is a part of hospice treatment and it’s appropriate at any point during a serious illness.
Consider palliative care if:
You’ll usually need a palliative care referral from your doctor. Tell all your medical care providers (doctors, nurses, specialists), and your family that you want it. Describe to your doctor what quality of life means to you such as spending time with loved ones, being relatively pain-free, being treated at the place of your choice, maybe your home. Let them know all your personal, cultural and religious beliefs that could affect treatment decisions.
Patients with progressive, incurable diseases, including but not limited to cancer, strokes, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney failure, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis should receive palliative care. In addition, families of these patients also receive palliative care.
From the time of diagnosis and throughout the course of the disease.
Palliative care is provided in the hospital, in long-term care facilities and at home.
Palliative care relieves symptoms such as pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, sleep problems, and many other symptoms and side effects of a disease and disease treatment.
Yes. Most private insurance companies cover at least part of palliative care as do Medicare and Medicaid.
A palliative care team can consist of the following professionals: doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, social workers, chaplains, pharmacists, counselors, nutritionists, and massage therapists.
So for conditions such as anxiety and depression, you could undergo psychotherapy along be prescribed antidepressant or anti-anxiety drugs. Psychotherapy may include relaxation techniques, and coping skills for things such as negative thoughts.
For physical pain, a doctor may prescribe morphine or other opiate such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.
Ministers and chaplains can address topics of religion, death and the afterlife as well as discuss feelings such as disappointment and remorse.
According to getpalliativecare.org, when you first meet with the team, you should ask the following questions.
Palliative care can be crucial for those patients suffering from a serious illness and for the loved ones of the patient. It is designed to lessen the physical pain, help with the emotional trauma, and decrease the stress that comes with treatment. If you’re undergoing treatment for a serious illness, ask your doctor for palliative care.
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