There is courage in accepting the full gravity of a terminal illness. Once we have accepted the harsh reality, it is only then that we would see clearer. We would realize that there are so many ways that we can help relieve the physical pain and mental strain caused by being seriously sick. At this point, the main goal is to make sure that our loved ones can still live a quality life as they continue on their everyday battle.
What Is Palliative Care?
Palliative care mainly helps patients that are diagnosed with serious illness. This specific type of care is designed to help improve the patient’s quality of life as they continue to get treatment for their disease. It can be offered for people that have been diagnosed with:
- ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
- Lung disease
- Heart disease
- Kidney failure
Palliative care can begin at the same time as the medical treatment and may continue during follow-up visits and towards the end of life. Aside from providing relief for the physical body, palliative care also focuses on reducing the mental and emotional stress caused by the illness.
Who Provides Palliative Care?
Palliative care is given as a team approach by several healthcare professionals and individuals. It is considered an extra layer of support given not just to the patient but also to the whole family. Palliative care can be provided by chaplains, social workers, physician assistants,nurses, doctors, etc.
You can get palliative care in emergency rooms, hospital units, treatment centers, and intensive care units. Though it used to be mainly given in a hospital or medical institution, palliative care nowadays can also be an outpatient treatment.
What Does Palliative Care Include?
Treatment for a terminal illness may help deal with the disease, but it also has its side effects. In palliative care, healthcare professionals will pay attention to physical problems and symptoms such as trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, feeling sick in the stomach, shortness of breath, and pain. When addressing these, healthcare workers will give treatments like integrative therapies, nutritional guidance, physical therapy, medicine, and occupational therapy.
It is also part of the palliative scope to pay attention to the family members of the patient. The truth is, serious or chronic illnesses don’t just affect the patient but also the people in their lives. Family members of terminally ill individuals often feel hopelessness, fear, anger, anxiety, and depression. In palliative care, families will receive treatments such as:
- Mental health support
- Family meetings
- Support groups
The palliative team also addresses financial concerns such as job-related problems, money issues, questions about their insurance coverage, and legal matters about hospital bills. Theycan help families by referring families to financial counseling and advice, explaining complex medical terms and forms, understanding the treatment choices, or connecting to transportation and housing resources.
How Do You Pay for Palliative Care?
Palliative care can be paid for by both private insurances or by the government. But most of the time, it is part of long-term care or chronic care coverage of the patient. There are also some limitations to where you can get palliative care. The insurance may have different coverage if you’re getting it in a hospital, nursing facility, or rehab instead of getting it at home.
There are some instances when the insurance covers visits from nurses, social workers, and chaplains. You need to check with your insurance provider whether it is included in the coverage or if you need to pay extra for it.
When to Begin End-of-life Care?
It is never easy to accept that we are about to lose a loved one. But when battling a terminal illness, this is a possibility that we need to expect no matter how painful the reality is. The final stages of a chronic disease can be extremely challenging not just to the patient but also to the people surrounding them.
Sowhen do palliative care ends and end-of-life care begins? It happens when despite the treatment, medication, and best care we have given, the patient is still nearing the end of his life. Depending on the stage of the illness, end-of-life care can last from weeks to a few months.
This is also when hospice care, another form of comfort care, is given to the patient and the family. At this stage, the focus is no longer to beat the illness but to make sure the patient is comfortable and, as much as possible, free from pain. It also focuses on how to provide family members with emotional and spiritual comfort during the last days of the patient’s life.
There is no doubt that we will give anything and everything that we can to make sure that our loved ones get the best care they deserve. When battling a terminal illness, we also need to remember that their comfort and quality of life are just as important as everything else. Let us give them a choice and the chance to enjoy life despite knowing that they’re nearing the end.