Palliative care is dedicated to keeping a patient comfortable during the diagnosis and treatment of a disease or other health condition. Traditional medical care focuses on treating the disease. Palliative care focuses on the person living through that treatment. The goal is for the patient to stay as physically and mentally well as possible during treatment. Palliative care is beneficial for a wide range of conditions, including cancer, chronic illness, diabetes, or stroke recovery.
Key benefits of palliative care for seniors
An immediate start – Unlike hospice care, which requires a terminal diagnosis, palliative care can begin at any time during your loved one’s treatment. Typically, a referral from the patient’s primary physician is all that is needed to begin the process.
Symptom reduction – The palliative care team will focus on symptoms that haven’t been resolved by traditional medical treatment. They can tweak an existing medication plan and offer home remedies that can help. For example, suppose Dad has insomnia after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The palliative care team might consider prescription medications to help him sleep. But they will also try to rule out an issue with existing medications and teach Dad relaxation techniques. Palliative care can help with any troublesome symptoms your loved one is experiencing, such as nausea, anxiety, fatigue, or pain.
A focus on the patient’s goals. While traditional medicine focus on curing diseases and managing their symptoms, palliative care focuses on the patient’s individual goals. At the very beginning of the palliative care process, your loved one will be asked about their goals for treatment. Say Mom’s primary goal is to stay as active as possible during her cancer treatment. The palliative care team might review her existing prescriptions to rule out unwanted side effects, including fatigue. They would discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using certain treatments and help her make informed decisions. They would also recommend home treatments and alternative therapies to help reduce her symptoms.
Decreased stress – Just having someone who will listen can take a huge weight off a patient dealing with a difficult diagnosis. The aim of palliative care is to take care of the whole patient, mentally, spiritually, and physically. The palliative care team looks at all available treatment options to help your loved one decide which works best with their goals. Palliative care doesn’t focus just on the patient, but on their whole world. This includes helping the patient’s family and friends cope with their loved one’s treatment. The palliative care team is a built-in support system for caregivers. They can offer advice on everything from finding a caregiver support group in Los Angeles to the best cancer treatment programs in Ventura County.
A higher level of treatment. The palliative care team oversees every aspect of your loved one’s treatment. Think of them as another set of eyes and ears making sure your loved receives the best care possible. Palliative care specialists can even help you with tricky matters, like figuring out insurance benefits.
Palliative care required a referral from your loved one’s doctor, so ask for one as soon possible. Remember, the earlier palliative care starts, the more your loved one will benefit from this patient-centered approach.