How Palliative Care Works: Everything You Need to Know
It’s hard to see a loved one in pain – especially after they’ve received a difficult diagnosis. There’s never an easy time to come to terms with someone you love being sick, but there are ways to treat symptoms and side effects in order to make life easier in their time of need.
Palliative care is a viable option for families that are hoping to manage someone’s pain while they are actively pursuing other curative medical treatment. There are a few key points to understand about the nature of palliative care and when it may be the right option for a loved one. That’s where our team at Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care comes in. Allow us to offer this brief palliative care overview.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care is a medical treatment that helps to manage the pain and side effects of a chronic illness. The purpose of palliative care is to improve the quality of a patient's life while they are undergoing aggressive curative treatment or managing symptoms of a serious illness. A lot of time, this treatment can be painful and taxing on a patient and their loved ones. By choosing to receive palliative care, patients are taking control of a large part of their well-being.
Although hospice care is also meant to manage pain, it’s important to note that palliative care is not hospice. Palliative care is available to a patient at any stage of their illness or treatment timeline, and can help manage pain and other symptoms during those times. For more information, visit our page on palliative vs. hospice care.
Many choose to use palliative care as a stepping stone towards hospice care, which can make the transition for patients and their families easier to manage. Others access palliative care for disease management over an extended period of time.
Who does palliative care benefit?
Palliative care is an effective option for patients with a range of illnesses or diagnoses. Many cancer patients choose palliative care as they undergo chemotherapy; other patients living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), HIV or AIDS, chronic liver disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or MS can greatly benefit from the symptom management that comes from palliative care.
Many palliative care patients are dealing with symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, depression, nausea or vomiting, delirium, and difficulty sleeping. The palliative care team – which includes physicians, nurse practitioners, and medical social workers – works to help patients live more comfortable lives despite these symptoms. They do this by determining needs and goals, prescribing treatments and medications, providing medical and emotional support, and guiding patients and families through the complicated healthcare system. All of this while allowing other healthcare providers (oncologists, pulmonologists, cardiologists, etc.) to focus on treatment.
Where can I receive palliative care?
Although palliative care is common for patients currently undergoing medical treatment, a patient doesn’t need to be admitted to a hospital to choose palliative care as an option. Should a patient choose palliative care, they can receive its services anywhere that they call home – such as a private residence, a nursing home, or an assisted living facility.
Crossroads’ offers the same personalized and high-quality services for patients in need of palliative or hospice care in all of the areas that we serve.
When is the best time for palliative care?
Unlike hospice, patients don’t need to receive a terminal diagnosis of six months or less to begin palliative care. In fact, the earlier that patients choose to begin palliative care treatment, the better. Part of Crossroads’ mission is to give patients the opportunity to live their best lives as soon as possible.
When patients or loved ones are unsure about whether palliative care is a good option at this time, this simple quiz can help to clear some things up.
How is palliative care paid for?
One of the most pressing questions regarding medical care is often: “how will this be paid for?” There are several ways that patients and families can pay for palliative care. Most private insurance plans cover the costs of palliative care as part of their chronic care, long-term care, or hospice benefits. In some cases, Medicaid will cover select palliative care services such as medications and visits from doctors.
To learn more about palliative care services and what Crossroads can provide to patient and their families, please call us at 1-888-564-3405.
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