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Palliative Care

Palliative Care. Do you know what this is? Is it the same as Hospice? Do you have to be terminal to qualify for Palliative Care? NO and NO.

Palliative care vs. hospice

Palliative care is an “approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.”1 In a nutshell, Palliative Care is for any type of chronic illness, even if you are stable and receiving treatment. Hospice is end of life care – a totally different approach.

The palliative care team

The Palliative Care team members may include a Certified Nurse Practitioner, a Palliative Care physician, social worker, spiritual advisor, physical therapist and many more. There are no time restrictions. Palliative care can be received by patients at any time, at any stage of illness whether it be terminal or not.

Your other doctors focus on your general health or treating your disease or condition. Palliative doctors concentrate on preventing and alleviating suffering, improving your quality of life, and helping you and your loved ones cope with the stress and burden of your illness.

Making sure you receive the best care

The purpose of a Palliative Care team is so that one person/place can coordinate your treatment from all your resources and make sure you are receiving the best and appropriate care. In my case, of course I see my oncologist once a month as I am in active treatment, but I have a Palliative Care nurse come to my home once a month and we review everything that has happened in the past month. She reviews all my medications, especially if there are changes, to make sure there are no interactions. The physician comes every third month to check my progress.

I do suffer from Post Thoracotomy Pain Syndrome and my Palliative Care Doctor prescribes my pain medication and coordinates with the remainder of my medical team. They help manage my pain. They make referrals for other services, for example, social work.

An oncology social worker

A social worker can do many things. My worker was instrumental in helping me set up Medicare when I became eligible for it, she hooked me up with a Life Alert system for times when I am home alone and most important to me, she helped me fill out the paperwork to have my State pay my Medicare premium – that was huge!

Finally, there is no age requirements. A child with a chronic illness may also have Palliative Care. My advice is don’t wait until you think you need it. Ask about it as soon as possible.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. WHO Definition of Palliative Care. WHO.