Palliative care is a commonly misunderstood concept. In 2013, 70% of Americans consider themselves to be “not at all knowledgeable” about palliative care. Many healthcare professionals consider it to be synonymous with end-of-life care.
It’s distressing if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a long-term, chronic condition. It can be even more confusing if health professionals use terms that you don’t fully understand.
So, let’s learn more about palliative care and the types of illnesses that can benefit from it. We’ll tell you all you need to know about this sensitive subject.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is defined by the World Health Organization as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families who are facing problems associated with a life-threatening illness.
It’s important to note that palliative care is not the same as hospice care. Both approaches focus on improving a patient’s quality of life, but palliative care is appropriate at any stage of illness and for patients of any age. Hospice care usually takes place near the end of life, often when active treatments have stopped.
Types of Palliative Care
Palliative care is primarily focused on managing the pain and side effects of chronic illness. It can be particularly important for patients undergoing aggressive curative treatment, for example, chemotherapy for cancer.
Palliative care is delivered by a multi-disciplinary team. This includes nurses, physicians, and medical social workers. Their aim is to help patients to live more comfortably, despite their symptoms.
Treatments can include a medication regime to manage pain, nausea, and other symptoms such as difficulty sleeping and fatigue. Emotional and spiritual support is also important. Many patients with long-term chronic conditions can feel depressed and anxious at times.
Palliative care professionals can also help patients and their families to make medical decisions, navigate the complex healthcare system, and coordinate care with other medical professionals.
The Benefits of Palliative Care
Palliative care should be delivered holistically, paying attention to the whole person and their family. The impact of disease can be managed in a variety of ways. Good palliative care can help patients and their families to feel more in control of a difficult situation.
Patients undergoing chemotherapy often benefit from palliative care. It is also a valuable treatment modality for many other conditions too. Patients with chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, and MS can find palliative care to be beneficial.
Choosing Palliative Care for Your Loved One
It can be a difficult and stressful process to choose palliative care providers for a loved one. Patients can access palliative care in any setting. It’s available in a hospital, in a patient’s own home, or in an assisted living facility or nursing home.
Here at Sholom, we offer various services for seniors. Our priorities are compassionate care and building community.
Don’t hesitate to explore our services via our virtual brochure.