Top

Archive | Palliative Care

Home Preparation and Alzheimer’s

Home Preparation and Alzheimer's

Preparation and Planning are key

3 Things You Can Do to Prepare Your Home for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s

 Home Preparation and Alzheimer’s

Providing care to a loved one is a rewarding experience. You know that you are giving her the best possible care and that she will spend her remaining days surrounded by loving family. When serving as a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, make sure that your home also is Continue Reading →

Emergency Lifeline Support

Emergency Lifeline Support

Lifeline is a medical alert service that gives older adults or anybody with chronic medical conditions the confidence to continue to live independently and their family can be most comfortable leaving them there when they are gone. Falling among adults can be the leading Continue Reading →

Fall Prevention

Fall Prevention

Falling among aging adults is the leading cause of injury and death. Falling can be something that can be prevented and less detrimental if precautionary steps are taken. First, here are some Continue Reading →

Palliative Care

How Can It Help?

 

Consumer health

Palliative care can provide pain and symptom relief, support, and coordinated, holistic care for people who have serious illnesses. Find out more about palliative care. By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you or a loved one has a serious or life-threatening illness, you might have thought about palliative care. To understand palliative care and how it can help relieve pain and improve quality of life, consider the following questions.

Palliative care is a multidisciplinary medical specialty that aims to improve quality of life for people who have serious or life-threatening illnesses. Palliative care takes into account the person’s emotional, physical and spiritual needs and goals — as well as the needs of his or her family.

Palliative care doesn’t replace primary medical treatment. Instead, palliative care is provided in conjunction with all other medical treatment.

Palliative care is available at any time during a serious or life-threatening illness, while hospice care is available only at the end of life — when curative or life-prolonging treatments have been stopped. You don’t have to be in hospice to receive palliative care.

Anyone who has a serious or life-threatening illness can benefit from palliative care, either to treat symptoms of the disease, such as pain or shortness of breath, or to ease the side effects of treatment, such as fatigue or nausea.

Palliative care may be a good option for someone with a serious illness who needs help:

  • Managing pain or other symptoms
  • Understanding and coping with his or her condition
  • Navigating the health care system. A palliative care specialist works with the primary care doctor and a team of other health care professionals to create a treatment plan that eases symptoms, relieves pain, addresses spiritual and psychological concerns, and helps maintain dignity and comfort. Here’s one example of how palliative care works: You have a history of heart failure and are increasingly short of breath, which makes it hard for you to do even simple chores around the house. You live at home with a partner who also has health problems. You find that getting all of the care you and your partner need is becoming more difficult, and you’re not sure how to plan for the future. This has been stressful for you and your family physically, psychologically, spiritually and financially. If you’re interested in obtaining palliative care for yourself or a loved one, ask your doctor or your loved one’s doctor about palliative care options and if a program is available in your area.
  • Your primary care doctor suggests that you consider palliative care and explains that a palliative care team will work with you to determine how to ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
  • A palliative care specialist can also help you or your loved one communicate with doctors and family members and create a smooth transition between the hospital and home care or nursing facilities. The palliative care team will educate you and your family members about what to expect and schedule routine meetings to discuss ongoing care throughout the course of your illness.
  • Palliative care can be provided throughout treatment for a serious illness — whether you or your loved one is being treated on an outpatient basis or in a hospital or a nursing home. This type of treatment can be provided by various specialists, including doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, counselors, chaplains, registered dietitians, pharmacists and rehabilitation specialists.

References

  1. Grant M, et al. Current status of palliative care – Clinical implementation, education, and research. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2009;59:327.
  2. Clary PL, et al. Pharmacologic pearls for end-of-life care. American Family Physician. 2009;79:1059.
  3. Bradley CT, et al. Developing guidelines that identify patients who could benefit from palliative care services in the surgical intensive care unit. Critical Care Medicine. 2009;47:946.
  4. Teno JM, et al. Referring a patient and family to high-quality palliative care at the close of life. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2009;301:651.
  5. Palliative care: The relief you need when you’re experiencing the symptoms of serious illness. National Institute of Nursing Research. http://www.ninr.nih.gov/NewsAndInformation/NINRPublications. Accessed Dec. 18, 2012.
  6. Moynihan TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 18, 2012.
  7. Palliative care and end-of-life hospice. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
  8. Meier DE, et al. Palliative care: Benefits, services, and models of care. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Dec. 18, 2012.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative (pal-ee-uh-tiv) care refers to a form of medical treatment that aims to reduce pain and the severity of disease symptoms. Palliative care treatment does not focus efforts on delaying or interrupting the progression of the disease. In other words, the goal of palliative care is to make a life of chronic pain and illness more manageable – not to cure the disease.

Palliative care is an excellent option  for those looking to improve their quality of life with specialized care. Individuals who benefit from palliative care are burdened by chronic illnesses such as ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, and more.

This treatment approach was originally developed exclusively for individuals with a terminal illness, but as need within a greater niche became apparent, palliative care expanded to include anyone with chronic and severe disease symptoms – terminal or otherwise. It has grown to include treatment for a wide range of symptoms including but not limited to pain, bowel or bladder problems, nausea and vomiting, weakness, mobility problems, and delirium or mental confusion.

If you are struggling to manage your day-to-day symptoms, or you have a loved one who needs assistance with pain management, consider a palliative care treatment approach. Interested in learning more about whether or not palliative care is the right choice for you?