Palliative care is a rapidly expanding area of medicine. There is still significant misunderstanding about what palliative care is, what it entails, who should receive it, and why.
Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life for those facing significant or life-threatening illnesses. It is occasionally referred to as supportive care. Palliative care aims to improve an individual’s total well-being, including physical, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
What does palliative care entail?
Palliative care is focused on enhancing the overall welfare of those who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses. It considers both the symptoms and the stress associated with living with a chronic disease.
Because palliative care is individualized, it might vary significantly from person to person. A care plan may contain one or more of the following objectives:
- symptomatic relief, including treatment-related adverse effects
- increasing awareness of the disease and its progression
- recognizing and responding to material and spiritual needs
- assisting individuals in coping with the emotions and changes associated with sickness
- helping in the comprehension of treatment alternatives, the formulation of treatment decisions, and the coordination of care
- locating and utilizing new resources to assist
Examples of palliative care
Palliative treatment may be appropriate for a variety of diseases. Several of the most prevalent conditions in which palliative care can be very beneficial include the following:
- cardiovascular conditions
- COPD is an acronym for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- These examples are expanded upon below.
Cancer palliative care
Cancer is one of the most often encountered illnesses in palliative care, as both symptoms and therapy can significantly impair one’s quality of life.
Palliative cancer care differs according to the following factors:
- cancer type
Someone just diagnosed with cancer may receive palliative care to assist them in coping with the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation or aid in their recovery following surgery.
Palliative care for cancer patients frequently includes depression and anxiety medication and tools to assist family members in planning for the future.
Cardiovascular disease palliative care
Cardiovascular disorders can hurt an individual’s quality of life and ability to care for oneself. Cardiovascular diseases include the following:
- failure of the heart
- coronary arteriopathy
- stenosis of the aorta
According to the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source, palliative treatment for persons with cardiovascular illnesses may be underutilized globally.
Researchers examined trends in the places of death of persons with cardiovascular illnesses in the United States in a 2019 review. Early palliative care, the analysis concludes, may help raise the possibility that people with these conditions will have the end-of-life experiences they seek. Increased early palliative care may also increase hospice referrals.
Palliative care for cardiovascular illness may assist patients and families with symptom relief, mental health support, and decision-making. It may also include assistance with end-of-life planning, if necessary.
Dementia palliative care
A decline in cognitive function characterizes dementia. It has a significant impact on a person’s:
Palliative care may involve treatment for dementia-related anxiety. As the illness develops, it may become necessary to assist family members in making difficult choices regarding feeding or caring for their loved ones. Additionally, it may include assistance for family caregivers.
COPD palliative care
Palliative care can assist individuals in managing COPD, a chronic respiratory illness characterized by coughing and shortness of breath.
Palliative care may involve therapies for discomfort, anxiety, or insomnia linked with trouble breathing in this illness. You may receive instruction about making lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, that will increase your activity level and reduce the progression of your disease.
Individuals seeking end-of-life care have four primary options:
- In-hospital palliative care
- Palliative nursing in a care facility or hospice
- At a hospice, daycare is available.
Palliative care in the home
Individuals receiving all of these types of therapy will receive pain and symptom management and emotional support. However, the settings are considerably distinct.
Palliative care nursing in hospitals
This type of palliative care is frequently provided on a short-term basis and is offered by professional care teams or a single nurse, depending on the circumstances.
Palliative care teams in hospitals will monitor discharge plans and arrange for patients to be transported to hospices, care homes, or their own homes to receive palliative care.
In a nursing home, palliative care
For those currently residing in a care facility, remaining there to receive end-of-life care is a more comfortable alternative than being transferred to a hospital ward. It is widely believed to be a more tranquil setting to get medical assistance.
However, not all residential care homes are equipped to provide palliative care; only those with highly trained staff are.
Daycare for hospice patients
In some aspects, hospices are similar to residential care facilities. They provide palliative nursing and rehabilitation, but patients are not required to stay permanently – they can come for a day and return home.
At-home palliative care
Palliative home care enables persons to receive end-of-life care in the comfort of their own homes.
Caregivers with advanced training in palliative care will relocate to the home of the person they are caring for to provide round-the-clock support. Additionally, it is referred to as in-home hospice.
Additionally, qualified palliative care professionals in Alameda County can make scheduled home visits during the day or even overnight. Home care visits can be used to relieve family members or other caregivers of their responsibilities and assist with personal care or continence care, for example.