Palliative care at a glance
- Palliative care is a medical discipline providing relief from the side effects and symptoms of a chronic and serious illness such as some cases of cancer.
- Though sometimes confused with hospice care, which focuses on end-of-life care, palliative care’s goals are quite different, addressing the physical and emotional aspects of living with a long-term or constantly recurring disease.
- Services vary by patients’ needs, but may include pain management, nutritional guidance, emotional support, caregiving support and other services to improve quality of life and reduce stress.
- This care is integrative medicine involving physical, emotional and spiritual guidance, typically provided by a team of providers, nurses and professionals.
- Numerous studies recognize that it helps improve overall quality of life, and it is increasingly offered as part of hospital support services.
- cCARE specializes in providing palliative care to all our interested patients.
What is palliative care?
This care is a specialized field of medicine focused on helping people with serious, chronic illnesses feel better by relieving symptoms or side effects of disease and its treatment. The ultimate goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family as they deal with serious, sometimes incurable conditions.
Palliative care is often recommended for any chronic or life-threatening illness, such as:
- Blood and bone marrow disorders.
- Cystic fibrosis.
- Heart disease.
- Kidney failure.
- Lung disease.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
These illnesses have a resounding effect on a person’s health, well-being and family. Palliative care attempts to mitigate or address some of the disease symptoms and side effects of treatment to improve physical and emotional health, and is therefore considered a part of integrative medicine.
It is sometimes referred to as supportive care, symptom management or comfort care. Due to the nature of the varied services involved, it’s often provided by a team specifically trained in areas of support, and in conjunction with ongoing disease treatment.
Palliative care vs. hospice
Many people confuse palliative care with hospice care, which is understandable. Palliative care was originally developed to help people with terminal disease, but has evolved into a medical specialty focusing on a broad range of life-threatening or serious conditions.
Following are the key elements in making the distinction between the two.
- Palliative care can be given along with treatment intended to cure or improve the patient’s illness.
- It is best to begin palliative care as close to the time of disease diagnosis as possible, and can be beneficial during all stages of the sickness.
- It helps provide an understanding of patients’ options for treatment of their disease.
- This care can be provided in a hospital, our clinic, a specialized palliative clinic or at home.
- This care can transition to hospice care when it is likely that the patient may die within six months.
- Hospice focuses on quality and comfort of a patient’s time when approaching the end of life.
- Hospice care is designed to be employed when treatment is no longer possible to cure or slow a life-threatening condition or when a patient chooses to cease receiving treatment.
- In addition to providing comfort to the patient, hospice care also supports the patient’s family.
Treating the whole patient
cCARE is unique in that it provides palliative care, complementary medicine and cancer support services directly to our patients. Our doctors guide patients through their diagnosis, symptoms and palliative care options from the get-go, cutting down on side effects, improving outcomes and decreasing hospital stays.
What is included in palliative care services?
cCARE’s team addresses physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their family members throughout their cancer diagnosis and treatment. Since it is based on the needs of the patient and not the patient’s prognosis, services vary. This care involves a lot of listening to patients talk about their life and emotions, then giving them suggestions on what might help them cope with the long- and short-term concerns of living with a serious illness. Following are specific services we offer.
- Care guidance, including helping patients understand their disease and diagnosis.
- Symptom management including pain.
- Providing practical tools and tips, such as how to deal with changes in taste, smell or appetite, as well as other side effects of the disease or treatment.
- Medication guidance on use and possible side effects to help give patients peace of mind.
- Nutrition planning based on likes and needs.
- Determining goals of care.
- Help assess if patients might benefit from elements of complementary or integrative medicine, such as acupuncture or massage therapy.
- Advise on at-home therapy remedies so patients can help themselves, including tools to reduce stress and improve breathing, exercises, meditation, emotional support assistance, and spiritual and physical alignment exercises.
- Caregiver support including understanding diagnosis and side effects.
- Other social and emotional support.
The team will also coordinate with any doctors, nurses or other professionals so everyone involved understands the goals and plans. Patients and their family members might consider these resource books suggested by our palliative care specialist Dr. Sabiha Pasha:
- “Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain,” by Pete Egoscue.
- “Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds,” by Kelly A. Turner.
- “Anticancer: A New Way of Life,” by David Servan-Schreiber, M.D.
When to consider palliative care for cancer
Any patient dealing with a serious, life-threatening illness can likely benefit from palliative care. Here are some signs that a cancer patient should consider palliative care:
- Dealing with pain or serious side effects from treatment.
- Has concerns with what to expect with the care plan over time.
- Has concerns with migrating from hospital to ongoing or at-home treatment.
- Looking for resources or support for family or caregivers.
- Has pain or other symptoms interfering with daily activities.
Patients often recover and move out of this type of care. Or some patients, such as those with recurrent cancers, may move in and out of care as the need arises.
Struggling with cancer?
cCARE’s services are designed with you in mind. Speak to our team about how we can help you.
How to get palliative care
cCARE offers in-office services directly to our patients as part of their cancer treatment. No matter where they are in their journey, we provide extensive support and care beyond treatment.
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