Palliative Care Can Help Patients and Caregivers During Any Stage of a Serious Illness

word cloud of palliative care termsPalliative care provides a wide range of services that help patients and their families manage pain, treatment side effects, disease symptoms and stress. The goal is to help patients gain the emotional and physical strength to carry on with their daily life and better manage their medical treatments.

 

Palliative care is important for patients dealing with any serious illness that affects their quality of life or ability to function. Palliative care has been shown to improve quality of life and reduce the likelihood of depression. And, it can prolong survival.

 

Palliative care doesnt just help patients; it helps family caregivers too. The role of caregiver is stressful. You are faced with responsibilities like taking loved ones to doctors visits, managing medications, providing daily care and addressing family conflicts. This stress can lead to serious declines in physical and mental health.

 

As a physician and palliative care specialist, I have seen first-hand how palliative care can help patients and caregivers. Ive met or heard from colleagues about patients and caregivers who have benefited from it when dealing with many different illnesses including: Alzheimers disease; arthritis; cancer; diabetes; heart, liver, lung or kidney disease; multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, etc.

 

I encourage all caregivers to learn more about palliative care and to make it an active part of managing any long term or progressive disease.

 

The first step is to speak with the doctor or other health care professional who is managing treatment about being connected with a palliative care team. You can also visit GetPalliativeCare.org to locate a hospital in your area that offers these services.

 

The palliative care team includes doctors, nurses and social workers. These professionals work with a patients primary doctor to help patients and caregivers:

          Understand what to expect throughout an illness

          Evaluate treatment options and establish treatment goals

          Manage pain and other symptoms

          Cope with worry, stress or depression

          Receive social or spiritual support

          Navigate the health system

 

Getting in touch with a palliative care team can mean getting the support you need as a caregiver.

(Sidebar) Palliative Care Q&A

 

Q. What is palliative care?

A. Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illnesswhatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.

 

Q. Is palliative care only available for older patients?

A: Palliative care is important at any point in a serious illness and for patients of any age. Patients can ask about palliative at the same time they are diagnosed and initially treated.

 

Q. Is palliative care covered by health insurance?

A. Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover palliative care.

 

Q. Do you have to give up your own doctor?

A. No. The specialists who make up the palliative care team work together with your primary doctor.

 

Q. Can you have palliative care together with curative treatment?

A. Yes. Palliative care can be given along with life-prolonging treatments, and it is appropriate at any stage in serious illness.

 

Photo credit: Deposit Photos Tupungato

Palliative care provides a wide range of services that help patients and their families manage pain, treatment side effects, disease symptoms and stress. The goal is to help patients gain the emotional and physical strength to carry on with their daily life and better manage their medical treatments.

 

Palliative care is important for patients dealing with any serious illness that affects their quality of life or ability to function. Palliative care has been shown to improve quality of life and reduce the likelihood of depression. And, it can prolong survival.

 

Palliative care doesnt just help patients; it helps family caregivers too. The role of caregiver is stressful. You are faced with responsibilities like taking loved ones to doctors visits, managing medications, providing daily care and addressing family conflicts. This stress can lead to serious declines in physical and mental health.

 

As a physician and palliative care specialist, I have seen first-hand how palliative care can help patients and caregivers. Ive met or heard from colleagues about patients and caregivers who have benefited from it when dealing with many different illnesses including: Alzheimers disease; arthritis; cancer; diabetes; heart, liver, lung or kidney disease; multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, etc.

 

I encourage all caregivers to learn more about palliative care and to make it an active part of managing any long term or progressive disease.

 

The first step is to speak with the doctor or other health care professional who is managing treatment about being connected with a palliative care team. You can also visit GetPalliativeCare.org to locate a hospital in your area that offers these services.

 

The palliative care team includes doctors, nurses and social workers. These professionals work with a patients primary doctor to help patients and caregivers:

          Understand what to expect throughout an illness

          Evaluate treatment options and establish treatment goals

          Manage pain and other symptoms

          Cope with worry, stress or depression

          Receive social or spiritual support

          Navigate the health system

 

Getting in touch with a palliative care team can mean getting the support you need as a caregiver.

(Sidebar) Palliative Care Q&A

 

Q. What is palliative care?

A. Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illnesswhatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.

 

Q. Is palliative care only available for older patients?

A: Palliative care is important at any point in a serious illness and for patients of any age. Patients can ask about palliative at the same time they are diagnosed and initially treated.

 

Q. Is palliative care covered by health insurance?

A. Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover palliative care.

 

Q. Do you have to give up your own doctor?

A. No. The specialists who make up the palliative care team work together with your primary doctor.

 

Q. Can you have palliative care together with curative treatment?

A. Yes. Palliative care can be given along with life-prolonging treatments, and it is appropriate at any stage in serious illness.

 

Post By Diane Meier (1 Posts)

Diane E. Meier, MD is Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), a national organization devoted to increasing the number and quality of palliative care programs in the United States. Dr. Meier has worked in the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine and the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City for over 30 years. She is dedicated to helping patients and their caregivers have the best possible quality of life in the face of any type of illness.

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Comments

  1. Appreciate the information. The more this is discussed, the more people will begin planning for palliative care, talk with their local hospice organization or physician. And it does help the patient, caregiver and the family.

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