When a patient is living with a serious illness, it can be a challenge to juggle curative treatments and symptom management at the same time. Doctors provide solutions to minimize the effects of the disease, but many patients also need additional support for addressing the symptoms and stress.
Palliative care doesn’t offer curative solutions to treat the actual illness – instead, these services are focused on comfort and quality of life. Specialty doctors, nurses, and care providers work together to offer each patient another layer of support.
Examples of When Patients Can Benefit from Palliative Care
A palliative care team focuses on the patient’s quality of life. If someone is dealing with a serious illness, these services can be essential to assist with managing the symptoms and stress of the situation.
Here’s an overview of common conditions that often require palliative care:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Kidney Disease
- And more
Things You Need to Know about Palliative Care
This overview helps you get a clear understanding of what palliative care is and isn’t. The purposes of palliative care include:
- Improving the quality of life for a patient and their close family members
- Providing relief from immediate pain and symptoms
- Combining physical, emotional, social, and spiritual support in a holistic plan
- Creating a support system to help patients enjoy a thriving life despite their current disease
- Assisting families to cope with the effects of chronic illness
- Focusing on prolonging quality of life (doesn’t hasten death)
Symptoms Treated Through Palliative Care
It’s common for chronic symptoms to arise when a patient is suffering from an ongoing illness. So when palliative care begins, the team’s goal is to alleviate the person’s suffering.
Symptoms treated through palliative care include:
- Shortness of breath
- Sleeping problems
- Appetite changes
- Digestive issues
Palliative care providers help patients build the strength and endurance to keep going through the daily activities of life. So not only can patients get through the day, but the hope is that you can thrive.
Addressing these symptoms not only provides immediate relief. But a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients live longer when receiving palliative care to manage a serious illness.
What are the Forms of Palliative Care?
One of the benefits of palliative care is that these services are customized to meet each person’s individual needs. First, the care team dedicates the time to understand the patient’s goals. Then, they collaborate to discuss treatment options.
A palliative care team partners with the patient, allowing each person the control to decide on the types of services they receive. Each person gets full support every step of the way.
Not only are palliative care services helpful for each patient. But support is also available for family members and caregivers.
Forms of palliative care might include:
- Managing physical symptoms
- Nutrition support
- Medication management
- Emotional and spiritual support
- Relaxation techniques
- Family communication
- Organizing service from friends and family
- Coordinating transportation
- Assistance with medical care
- Communication with social workers
- Accessing resources
- Sleep management
- Financial guidance
This list is just a brief overview. Palliative care can include anything a patient needs for comfort and support during this time.
How Long Can You Be in Palliative Care?
Unlike hospice care that is only available for patients with six months or less to live, palliative care can start at any time and last longer.
Since palliative care is designed for patients with chronic conditions, there isn’t a specific timeframe for treatment. Palliative care can help you cope with treatments you are receiving for an ailment and assist during recovery.
Pain management is often a big focus for palliative care, and many patients need ongoing support to manage the pain. However, palliative care can continue as long as the patient needs these services, as determined by a doctor.
Is Palliative Care End of Life Care?
While palliative care encompasses end-of-life care, there are distinct differences between the two. The concepts are similar: to provide symptom relief for the patient. But palliative care offers much more.
End-of-life care is a sub-service available within palliative care. End-of-life care includes palliative care – but palliative care may or may not include end-of-life care.
Palliative care encompasses services for all aspects of life, including symptom management, psychological needs, spiritual, social, and more.
What Is the Difference between Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care?
Hospice is one common term for end-of-life care. Both palliative care and hospice care are designed to help a patient feel more comfortable. In addition, these services focus on symptom management to improve the overall quality of life as much as possible.
The main difference between these two services is the focus on the patient’s needs, not the patient’s prognosis:
- Hospice care is only available for patients who are nearing the end of life. Hospice care starts when curative treatment ends.
- Palliative care is available for people of all ages who are experiencing serious illnesses. Palliative care can continue in conjunction with curative treatments.
Many of the symptom management services are similar. The main difference is the timing of services and whether these services coincide with curative treatments.
Accessing Palliative Care Services
If you or a loved one is in need of palliative care services, then Kentuckiana Pain Specialists can assist with the pain management part of the patient’s plan. Reach out to our team to learn more about available support and treatments to assist patients with chronic or acute pain.
Our goal is to help you and your family maintain the highest quality of life in any circumstances you might be facing. Our professional healthcare team offers a variety of treatments and resources to support your every need when dealing with chronic pain and health concerns.