The American healthcare system offers a variety of patient care options depending on the level of urgency and the patient’s needs. Even though primary, emergency, and mental healthcare are the most common types, healthcare options such as palliative care are on the rise too. Still, many people are unaware of what palliative care is.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is also called support or comfort care. And just as its alternative names suggest, it is designed to provide medical, emotional, practical, and spiritual support to patients with serious illnesses. Palliative care aims to improve the patient’s overall well-being and quality of life by addressing stress and symptoms and minimizing pain.
In addition, it can help cope with changes in feelings with the progression of the disease. Also, palliative care might not just make the patient’s life easier; it can also provide support for the patient’s loved ones.
What Diseases Can Be Treated with Palliative Care?
Here are some conditions that can use palliative care to assist the patient.
Cancer symptoms include nausea, fatigue, confusion, and shortness of breath; the overwhelming medical information on top of these symptoms makes everyday life a struggle. While the patient is trying to cope with the disease, comprehending medical treatment options can be difficult.
Mesothelioma is a common type of cancer that results in coughing and shortness of breath in the affected individual and significant changes in their lifestyle. Palliative care can provide treatments for discomfort and insomnia caused by breathing difficulties.
Palliative care offers assistance with practical issues too. For example, suppose you are a mesothelioma patient in palliative care in Florida. Your caregiver can help you find a Florida lawyer to ensure you don’t have to worry about getting the right financial compensation.
Dementia progression can sometimes be slow, making prognosis difficult and designing care routines difficult. Integrating palliative care in dementia patients’ healthcare can help assess the symptoms more accurately and ensure better healthcare provision. It can also help manage symptoms including hallucinations, delusions, and depression.
For example, if someone has dementia and begins to experience hallucinations, they may become distressed by this experience. This can make them fearful about going out or doing things they used to enjoy doing before. They may also have trouble sleeping if they feel unsafe in their home environment because they’re afraid that someone or something will be waiting for them when they’re alone at night or in the dark. A palliative care team can help by offering support during these difficult times and helping people deal.
Dementia can be significantly hard on the patient’s family; they have to adjust to the deteriorating “new normal” quickly. In addition, the high stress makes them susceptible to falling sick themselves. Palliative care can thus share the patient’s responsibility and indirectly reduce the risk of affecting the family’s health.
According to WHO, because of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, aortic stenosis, and stroke, over 39% of the 40 million patients require palliative care. Although cardiovascular diseases are directly linked to the heart and lungs, their symptoms also often show in other body parts. Nausea, anxiety, and weight loss are a few common symptoms many cardiovascular patients have to deal with.
Along with managing the symptoms, a specialized palliative team can help minimize them too. Cardiovascular diseases require significant lifestyle changes, such as exercise and dietary modification, which can be hard to incorporate. A palliative team can assist with transitioning to a healthier life to improve quality of life.
When Can You Receive Palliative Care?
Palliative care originated from hospice care and was initially developed for people with terminal illnesses. However, over time this comfort care has evolved. It is provided depending on the patient’s needs instead of their prognosis. Unlike hospice, you don’t need to be in the advanced stage of the illness to sign up for comfort care.
Nor do you need two physicians to certify your eligibility for palliative treatment. A patient’s and physician’s discretion are enough to start. Since palliative care is available for patients of every age and at any stage of their disease, you may request palliative care as soon as the treatment starts.
What are the Benefits of Palliative Care?
According to World Health Organization (WHO), out of every ten patients who need palliative care, only one receives it. Unfortunately, the other nine miss out on the benefits palliative care brings to the table. Other than improved life quality, minimized pain, well-managed symptoms, and support for family members, palliative care also ensures that patient care makes better decisions.
Since the care staff is all-trained and often includes medical experts, the patient has emotional support and simplified information within reach. As a result, the patient can make informed decisions with complete understanding and a calm mind. Also, the patients are less likely to be depressed with constant emotional support. As a combined result, palliative care leads to prolonged survival.
What Types of Palliative Care are Available?
There are four primary options for palliative care: home care, hospital palliative care, care centers, and residential palliative nursing through hospice. They all offer different environments and duration of care. The case might be under one nurse’s care or a group of specialists in hospital care. The stay is short-term, and the patient is switched to other options according to the discharge plan.
The care homes – with specialized staff – can provide a relatively calmer place and are popular for end-of-life care or extended stays. The hospice centers are similar to care homes, but the centers are open for shorter visits too. For example, you can attend for one day and then return home. Lastly, the most comfortable place is home or hospice at home. The patient or their family can hire trained palliative nursing staff to provide 24/7 support.
Palliative care offers a chance to improve life for people with severe illnesses and is available at any stage of the disease. Depending on your preferences and planned duration of stay, you can select the palliative care type. No matter what you choose, the trained staff will ensure you have someone to turn to when you need comfort. This support care is not limited to medical attention; the team will look into your daily needs to make everyday life as painless and stress-free as possible.