If you or a loved one in Mount Vernon or elsewhere has been diagnosed with a serious disease, it might be a perfect time to learn about palliative care options.
This type of care describes a general medical philosophy and approach that focuses less on “curing” someone and doing more tests and more on helping them improve their quality of life during a challenging time.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care enjoys working with patients who are receiving palliative care as well as those who have asked their physicians to provide traditional care.
Because health can be so fluid, in some cases, an approach may change as a person’s prognosis changes, including how active they want to be in the management of their own care.
For instance, someone fighting cancer may want to begin by treating it aggressively with radiation or chemotherapy, plus a lot of testing. But if these efforts don’t work, the patient may request a palliative focus. This could take the form of a focus on pain relief and allowing the person to stay at home with loved ones vs. more painful testing and experimenting in the hospital.
Alternately, they can tell their provider “let’s emphasize palliative care first” right when they’re diagnosed with a serious condition. This will make sure that there’s a constant focus on their needs and their comfort every step of the process, whatever the outcome.
Or, in some cases, they can receive palliative care while they’re receiving standard care.
A palliative care approach may also include the expertise of a whole “team” of caregivers who can look at ways to not only help ease the physical pain but emphasize ways to boost someone’s mental, emotional even spiritual quality of life since some health conditions can be exhausting in all of these areas.
This month is an excellent opportunity to learn more about palliative care.
November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, an occasion when care programs around the country are encouraged to educate their local communities about what services they offer and make it easy for people to learn more.
Palliative care is actually a form of hospice care. Many patients with less than six months to live may be interested in pain relief and a better quality of life through hospice.
Home health services for hospice patients can include everything from regular massages from a massage therapist which can relieve muscle pain, to visits from a social worker who can help with some of the complex financial and estate paperwork that needs to be addressed at this time of life.
Clients can also work with their provider or other medical staff to find the right balance of pain relief and the ability to function so they can try to treasure remaining time with loved ones.
In some cases, removing the pressure of regular tests and doctor visits may improve
Who needs palliative care?
If you like the descriptions of palliative care and want to learn more, what do you do?
Talk to your primary provider. He or she can give suggestions on their criteria or discuss your conditions with some specialty medical providers who already may be focusing on you or your specific condition.
Meet any medical criteria. Generally, palliative care is available when someone is diagnosed with a serious medical condition. This can be something chronic or acute, something that may be able to be cured or terminal. GetPalliativecare.org, an online resource, said this can include cancers, heart, lung or kidney disease, various dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Learn about hospice care options. Hospice services are often recommended if someone has a terminal health condition and providers estimate they have about six months remaining in their life. Palliative care options likely are available.
Talk to a palliative care specialist. Some physicians or nurses in your area may have received additional training in providing these services and will be happy to share information about different resources.
Assemble your team. An ingredient in many communities with strong palliative care programs is the team, which is a group of professionals who help with your various mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. They can also help by just providing information about what’s happening to you and helping you and your family find reliable answers. If you’re already receiving home health care, different people may be able to visit to bring these services to you. Or you can arrange appointments at their offices.
Overall, when someone is diagnosed with a serious health condition, there are a lot of things that go through their head, including all sorts of possible treatment and possible outcome options. However, not everyone knows to ask about palliative care.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is happy to point people in the right direction to receive information or begin palliative care.