Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care for people with a serious illness in need of relief from pain and suffering. Palliative services focus on improving the patients quality of life by providing as much comfort as possible. Unlike hospice care which dedicates it’s services to those who are at the end of life, palliative care may be used at any point of time during a serious illness, whether that illness is chronic, life-threatening or curable.
Palliative care takes a team approach by providing personalized care tailored specifically for each individual. The interdisciplinary team is comprised of doctors, dietitians, social workers, psychologists, massage therapists, chaplains and other health professionals. Palliative care strives to provide the highest quality of support not only for the patient but for their family as well.
How can Palliative Care Help my Loved One?
- Manages pain and discomfort as much as possible
- Helps patients understand their choices for medical treatment
- Experts help patient and family cope with medical treatments, stress and fears about the future
- Provides a variety of counseling options
- Gives guidance from healthcare professionals
- Addresses symptoms related to serious illness such as sleeplessness, loss of appetite and shortness of breath
- Offers a variety of therapies including physical, cognitive, emotional and integrative.
- Gives families the tools they need to make the most of their time together
- Palliative doctors can coordinate care with your general doctor
- Ongoing care, comfort and support
Is Palliative Care for the Dying?
It is important to understand that palliative care does not mean you are giving up. Palliative care is designed to help you achieve the outcome you desire while making you as comfortable as possible during your journey. You can receive palliative care in combination with taking curative measures as you undergo treatments to fight your disease. Palliative care may benefit your health by improving your quality of life giving you access to the tools needed to cope, feel less pain and fight.
Who Pays for Palliative Care?
Costs related to medical care can cause serious financial strain on the patient and their family members. Private insurance companies and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) often cover palliative care and can help you find out what other services are covered by your health plan at no cost. Coverage from Medicare and Medicaid may vary from state to state and depend on factors such as the type of plan you have, age and income. Be aware that Medicare and Medicaid may use a different name for palliative care, however, the services offered are the same.
How can I find Palliative Care?
There are various avenues to finding palliative care. Common sources include asking your general doctor, hospital, assisted living, nursing home or insurance company. Too often patients and family members wait longer than necessary to receive palliative care. If you feel there is a chance that you or your loved one may benefit from this type of care, do not wait for a physician or other health care provider to bring it up. It is your right to be provided with options and have the opportunity to receive comfort measures sooner rather than later.
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