It’s Important to Know about Palliative Care!
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness—whatever 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, professional health care chaplains 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.
Palliative care treats people suffering from cancer and other serious and chronic illnesses including cardiac disease such as congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and many more. Palliative care focuses on symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and depression. It also helps you gain the strength to carry on with daily life. It improves your ability to tolerate medical treatments. And it helps you have more control over your care by improving your understanding of your choices for treatment.
Palliative care is a team approach to care. The core team includes doctor, nurse, healthcare chaplain and social work palliative care specialists. Massage therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists and others may also be part of the team. The team spends as much time as necessary with you and your family. They become a partner with you, your family and your other doctors. They support you and your family every step of the way, not only by controlling your symptoms, but by helping you understand your treatment options and goals.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a serious illness, you may benefit from palliative care. Speak to your doctor and ask for it.
This information about palliative care comes from the excellent resource: www.getpalliativecare.org where you can find more detail about:
- What is palliative care (http://getpalliativecare.org/whatis/)
- How to get palliative care (http://getpalliativecare.org/howtoget/)
- Take the quiz: Is palliative care right for you? (http://getpalliativecare.org/rightforyou/)
- An extensive list of online resources (http://getpalliativecare.org/resources/)
- A handout that you can print out and bring to your doctor (http://www.getpalliativecare.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/WhatYouShouldKnowHandoutRevised.pdf)