What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is the treatment of the pain, symptoms and stress associated with a serious illness. A patient can receive palliative care at any age and any stage of an illness, whether the illness is terminal or not. Palliative care is not dependent on prognosis and it does not replace a patient’s primary treatment. Rather, it works together with the treatment the patient is already receiving.
The goal of palliative care is to ease physical and emotional suffering and improve the quality of life for both the patient and their family.
Although hospice care has the same principles of comfort and support, palliative care is offered earlier in the disease process and can occur while the patient is still receiving curative treatment.
Hospice, also known as comfort care, is for patients who have made the personal decision to no longer pursue curative treatment. Instead, they have decided to focus on quality of life and time with family and friends.
Deciding the right time is a personal choice. Patients tend to transition to hospice when they have decided to stop curative or aggressive treatments. The earlier we start working with a patient and their family, the bigger difference that we can make in their quality of life.
Here is a list of common signs that may help you decide if end-of-life care is the right choice for you or a loved one:
You’ve decided to no longer receive treatments to cure your illness
A physician has given you a prognosis of six months or less if the illness were to run its normal course
There are no further treatments available, and you want to focus care on comfort and relieving symptoms
You have an increase in pain and nausea, as well as breathing difficulties
There’s been an increase in your number of hospital stays and emergency room visits