Palliative Care: Know the Facts
Palliative care is a type of specialised medicine that aims to relieve pain and other severe sickness symptoms. Additionally, it might help you deal with the unfavourable effects of medical procedures. Palliative treatment is accessible regardless of whether your ailment is curable.
Palliative care teams aim to improve the quality of life and provide comfort for people and their families. This form of care is offered alongside other treatments a person might be receiving. Palliative care is provided by a team of healthcare providers, including nurses, doctors, social workers and other trained specialists. The team collaborates with you, your loved ones, and your other healthcare professionals to give additional support and respite to go along with your continuing treatment.
If you or someone in your family has a serious illness, palliative care might be an option you want to consider. Talk with a doctor to find out more about palliative care and how to get this type of care.
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What is Palliative Care?
The goal of palliative care is to enhance the general health of patients with life-threatening diseases. It addresses both the stress of living and the symptoms of a chronic illness. It might also involve support for caregivers or loved ones.
Since it is based on individual needs, palliative care can be quite different from one person to the next. A care plan may involve one or more of the following goals:
- accessing and identifying additional resources to provide support
- assisting in coordinating care, making treatment decisions and understanding treatment options
- helping to cope with changes and feelings related to illness
- identifying and addressing spiritual and practical needs
- improving understanding of illness and its progression
- alleviating symptoms, including side effects of treatment
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Palliative Care is Helpful for Which Medical Conditions?
Numerous disorders may be candidates for palliative care. The following are a few of the most typical illnesses where palliative care might be extremely beneficial:
Palliative Care for Cancer
As both symptoms and therapy can significantly affect your quality of life, cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases connected with palliative care.
Palliative cancer care varies depending on:
- the type of cancer
Someone with a recent cancer diagnosis may receive palliative care to manage the side effects of radiation or chemotherapy or to help them recover after surgery.
Palliative care for cancer often includes treatments for anxiety or depression and tools to help family members plan for the future.
Palliative Care for Cardiovascular Diseases
Cardiovascular diseases can affect a person’s ability to care for themselves and their quality of life. Cardiovascular diseases include:
- aortic stenosis
- coronary artery disease
- heart failure
Palliative care might be underutilised globally for people with cardiovascular diseases.
Early palliative care might help increase the likelihood that people with these diseases will experience their desired end-of-life outcomes. Increasing early palliative care might also increase referrals to hospice care.
Palliative care for cardiovascular disease might help in decision-making for people with these diseases and their families, mental health support and symptom relief. It might also include help with end-of-life planning, should that be needed.
Palliative Care for Dementia
Dementia is associated with deteriorating brain function. It greatly impacts a person’s:
Treatment for dementia-related anxiety may be part of palliative care. As the illness progresses, it may involve helping family members make difficult decisions about caring or feeding for their loved one. Support for family caregivers might also be a part of it.
Palliative Care for COPD
Palliative care can help people manage COPD, a respiratory illness that causes shortness of breath and coughing.
For this condition, palliative care may include treatments for anxiety, discomfort, or insomnia associated with difficulty breathing. You may receive education on lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking, that can slow the progress of your illness and improve your activity level.
What are the Benefits of Palliative Care?
Palliative care aims to enhance the quality of life for those dealing with serious or terminal illnesses while also providing support for their families. Some of the benefits can include:
- Improved caregiver satisfaction – Palliative care consistently improves both caregiver and patient satisfaction.
- Support for caregivers and family members – Palliative care can include emotional support and instructional guidance for family members caring for a loved one with a serious illness.
- Support in making decisions – Palliative care specialists provide support to people diagnosed with a serious illness and their families to make decisions about treatment, care for their illness, and support in emotionally coping with the diagnosis.
- Longer survival – The same review makes the connection between depression and mortality, which might lead to a higher life expectancy for those with advanced cancer who get palliative care.
- Reduced risk of depression – Early palliative care is associated with a lower risk of depression in people newly diagnosed with advanced cancer.
- Improved quality of life – Those who receive palliative care usually have a higher quality of life than those who undergo traditional treatments.
- Symptom management support – Palliative care specialists might help people with pain management and symptom management in people living with advanced cancer.
When to Consider Palliative Care?
If you have a life-threatening or serious illness, you can ask about palliative care at any time.
There is a widespread misperception that receiving palliative care requires you to wait until your disease is advanced or fatal. Several studies suggest that palliative care is most effective when started early, closer to diagnosis.
Early use of palliative care improves both overall survival and the quality of life. There is evidence that palliative care can help people with depression and other mental health issues.
Your loved ones are also likely to benefit if you receive palliative care, which can help them access support and resources to cope with your illness.
Can You Get Palliative Care at Home?
It depends on where you live. Palliative care has become more accessible in recent years, but it is still not available everywhere.
Depending on where you live, you may have more than 1 option as to where you can receive palliative care. Some options might include:
- your home
- an outpatient clinic
- an assisted living facility
- a nursing home
- a hospital
Find out more about the palliative care choices you have and where you may get treatment in your region by speaking with your doctor.
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How do you Get Palliative Care?
The first step in receiving palliative care is to ask a healthcare professional or doctor about it. Your treating physician should suggest that you seek out a palliative care professional.
By establishing a list of your symptoms and how they affect your daily activities, you can be ready for your meeting with a palliative care provider. You will also want to bring a list of medications you take and any relevant medical history.
It is a good idea to ask a family member or friend to accompany you to your appointment. After the consultation, you will work with your palliative care team to develop a plan. The plan will be based on your symptoms and any treatments you are currently undergoing, as well as how your illness is affecting your family members, everyday activities and mental health.
The plan will be carried out in cooperation with any additional medical care you are getting. As your needs vary over time, they should alter as well. If it becomes needed, your plan can also involve advanced care and end-of-life planning.
Palliative care helps in providing relief from pain and other symptoms of a serious illness. It also gives comfort to people and their families and aims to improve their quality of life. Palliative care can be quite different from one person to the next, so it is always advisable to seek medical help from an experienced palliative care physician. Timely care and help can ensure an appropriate diagnosis and treatment of your condition.
At the CK Birla Hospital, we ensure patients get holistic medical support which includes treatment in a compassionate environment. This patient-centric approach not only helps patients heal better but also ensures they are aware of the preventive measures as well. In case you need to consult a palliative care physician, reach out to us, or book a direct appointment with Dr. Rajiva Gupta at the CK Birla Hospital.
What Are the 3 Forms of Palliative Care?
The 3 main forms of palliative care are spiritual care, emotional support and symptom management. The primary purpose of palliative care is symptom management. It includes monitoring and treating symptoms that might include anxiety, depression, difficulty breathing, fatigue, nausea or pain.
What Stage of Life is Palliative Care?
While the length of palliative care can differ, it typically begins when a serious illness is diagnosed and could last until the end of life. It is important to note that palliative care can begin at any stage of an illness and can be provided alongside other treatments.
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