What is Palliative Care?

If you or a loved one is suffering from a serious illness, then you have almost certainly considered how to improve this person’s quality of life during this difficult time. What you have been looking for is called palliative care. It is a subspecialty of internal medicine that concerns itself strictly with relief from the physical, psychological and spiritual ailments afflicting patients of any age with serious, debilitating and oftentimes terminal illnesses (according to the New England Journal of Medicine). This type of care can be facilitated under both inpatient settings and also as at-home care. It is not limited to any one medicinal specialty, but instead encourages a multidisciplinary approach in consideration of each patient’s particular illness. For patients with terminal illnesses this treatment option may be the only way of spending their remaining time with quality of life and peace of mind.


Benefits of Palliative Care

As a method of medical care with almost limitless adaptability and opportunity for growth, the benefits of palliative care will invariably differ for every specific patient. Yet for all its vastness, the end goal always remains quite simple: quality of life. Whether you are a cancer patient suffering from nausea as a result of chemotherapy, or the victim of a serious physical malady in need of painkillers, this method of treatment can help.

  • Many Chronic Illnesses qualify for a palliative approach including, but not limited to, cancer, pulmonary diseases, cardiac disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's disease 
  • Pain Reduction is one of the principle aims of this kind of treatment. Pain can be debilitating, and can prevent you from accomplishing simple tasks or enjoying otherwise memorable moments
  • A Multidisciplinary Approach to patient care means that the tools and practices of palliative care evolve alongside other disciplines of medicine. This type of treatment often involves a team of specialist drawing from groundbreaking techniques in their individual fields. The methodology behind this approach to healthcare improves exponentially every year
  • Relief for the Patient’s Family comes in many ways as a result of palliative care. Loved ones will have the peace of mind that absolutely everything that can be done for the patient’s well being is considered. This can include psychological help and guidance for both the patient and family to assist them emotionally
  • Flexibility in this treatment method exists through the vast amount of treatment options available for the many symptoms of serious illnesses, and the ability of palliative care teams to work both in a hospital or at the patient’s home
  • Paperwork and Legal matters are also considered part of the obstacles that this treatment method is meant to address
  • Quality of Life means the ability to still enjoy moments. Whether they be quiet and introspective, or celebratory and family filled, your life can still be meaningful throughout your battle with a serious illness
  • Life Extension is never a guarantee, but the relief offered by the many treatments involved, combined with a positive approach, can be a morale booster and heighten the patient’s will to live

Public Standing

Initially, many facets of palliative care were criticized as leading to medicinal addictions or abuse and unwanted side-effects, and still is in respects to its use for athletic injuries. Palliative care is seen by many as an opportune time to consider holistic or alternative medicines such as naturopathy. In fact, an individual’s palliative care team often includes spiritual guidance specialists such as rabbis, priests and ministers. Help with the emotional aspects of serious illnesses and coping with the stress it takes on a family have made palliative care an increasingly popular medicinal subdiscipline.

When is Palliative Care Appropriate?

Your doctor will decide if palliative care is appropriate for you based on several circumstances. If the doctor determines that you are eligible, they will refer you to a palliative care or symptoms management specialist. Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover the cost of this treatment approach under many circumstance (according to cancer.gov). You can contact your doctor or insurance to determine if you are eligible. According to palliativedoctors.org common determinations that may lead to this type of approach include:

  • A patient’s limited ability to care for oneself
  • The ineffectiveness of previously used evidence-based treatments
  • Ineligibility of the patient to participate in clinical trials
  • Lack of evidence that any known treatment would be effective

Now that you have a little background information and further understanding about the nature and aims of palliative care, you are ready to ask your doctor if it is appropriate for you. Once you begin to structure a care team you can chose to have it include a wide variety of specialists such as doctors, physical therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and even church heads (according to cancer.gov).This treatment method aims to understand exactly what you could be suffering from due to serious illness and improve your quality of life by addressing those specific symptoms. Palliative care is a modern and customizable treatment method that is now board certified and undeniably effective.

Looking for palliative care for your loved one?

If you or a loved one requires palliative care in the Greater Toronto Area, Calgary, Edmonton or Ottawa, book a free senior care assessment with Mavencare.