East Central Indiana Blog

When Comfort is Your Top Priority: Understanding Palliative Care

 

What is Palliative care? 

Palliative care focuses on relieving the symptoms of chronic illness and improving overall quality of life.  It considers the whole person:  physical, emotional, social, and spiritual.  In other words, Palliative care treats a person like a person!  

It is not the same as Hospice.  They do both focus on comfort and quality of life, but Hospice is only available for persons who will have no more curative treatments and are considered ‘terminal’- with a life expectancy of six months or less.  Palliative care is available to anyone with a challenging, long-term medical condition.


When can it help?

 It can occur at any point in the disease process.  It is for anyone struggling with the adverse effects of a serious, long-term illness.  Unlike Hospice, general Palliative care can occur simultaneously with aggressive, curative therapies like dialysis, radiation, chemo, and inpatient hospitalization.


How can it help?

Palliative care treats the whole person.  It effectively addresses many types of issues facing patients and families dealing with a serious illness.  Common medical symptoms to be managed are pain, nausea, fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and anxiety.  Some essential personal challenges that can be addressed are emotional stress, isolation, confusion, spiritual pain, safety concerns, and nutritional needs.  This care begins with listening to and understanding the patient’s and family’s priorities, goals, and concerns. 


Summary

  • Focuses on managing symptoms and improving quality of life.
  • Appropriate at any point in the disease process and is for anyone experiencing the adverse effects of a serious, long-term illness.
  • Can occur at the same time as aggressive, curative treatments.
  • Takes into account individual priorities, goals, and concerns and considers the whole person: physical, emotional, social, and spiritual.
  • Palliative care can have a great impact on patients and families and make their lives much easier.
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