What is palliative care? Fairly new on the health care scene (within the last decade or so), palliative care is often confused with hospice care. While some of the main principles, like comfort and pain or symptom management, are shared…palliative care is its own unique offering. And it’s a great one at that!
Dear Reader: It’s important to note that, since palliative care is still taking form, there is more than one version out there. Of the various palliative care approaches, we at Residential Home Health are big fans of a multidisciplinary approach that is truly rewarding for patients, families and caregivers. This is the type of “palliative” described from here on out.
So who should consider palliative care? Take Beth, for example. Beth suffers from chronic back pain, has a diagnosis of COPD, and is a fiery young 67 years old. She has trouble getting out of bed each day, due to both pain and depression brought on by her health. Understandably, Beth is stressed by constantly battling uncomfortable symptoms and pain while also serving as family matriarch; her husband and children feel the strain of worrying about Beth and supporting her health.
Has Beth’s doctor predicted that she has only 6 months to live, as is required to qualify for hospice? By no means. Could Beth and her family use some extra help, and appreciate the opportunity to focus more on her quality of life as she moves forward? Absolutely. And this is the beauty of palliative care. Anyone with a serious illness can receive palliative, regardless of life expectancy. It can be helpful for patients with cancer, COPD, CHF, end-stage renal disease, Alzheimer’s, and many other symptom- or pain-heavy challenges. It can address dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, anxiety or depression, encompassing all byproducts of diseases or health challenges.
Unlike hospice care, you do not have to be dying or stop curative treatment to receive palliative care and all of its benefits.
If you have cancer, you can continue with chemo or other options. You keep working with your physician, but you can also add in a social worker, a physical therapist, a nurse, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, or pastoral care…a personalized team built to meet the needs of you and your family. The #1 goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life, add to comfort, manage symptoms, and lift some of the burdens (financial, spiritual, emotional, physical) that chronic diseases or pain can cause. Palliative care is really an added “bonus” on top of the treatments or care you or someone close to you is already receiving; it helps address difficult symptoms and alleviate pain.
These are really the palliative basics: comfort, support, quality of life, and an improved outlook…for patients as well as family and caregivers.
You can find out more on these helpful sites:
Residential Comfort Path is a palliative-focused home care program from Residential Home Health, a nationally recognized leader of in-home and therapy services. Designed for patients who are still seeking curative treatment options of who are not quite ready to transition to hospice, Residential Comfort Path provides physical, emotional and psychosocial support to improve quality of life for patients facing a life-limiting illness.
For additional information about Residential’s multidisciplinary approach, download the quick guide below and compare the difference between home health, palliative and hospice care. Of course, you can always get more information and talk with a nurse about your specific situation for free at (866) 902-4000.