What is Palliative Care?

But you don't quite understand what it is. People often think palliative care and hospice are one and the same. They are not.

Daughter spending time with her motherThe goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for patients living with chronic or life-limiting illnesses. It isn't limited to just hospice patients. Instead, palliative care can help those living with chronic illnesses like kidney disease or heart failure.

Using a team approach, palliative care helps to manage symptoms, pain and the stress that often accompanies a serious illness. Teams comprised of physicians, nurses, specialists, nutritionists, and therapists work together to develop a care plan unique to each patient. Having relief from fatigue, shortness of breath or trouble sleeping can often help patients live a more normal life.

Palliative care can be provided in whatever setting a patient calls home. That could include a personal residence, an assisted living community, a VA clinic, a hospital and more.

Patients and family members considering palliative care are often concerned about costs. Most insurance plans cover at least some forms of care, as does Medicare. If finances are an issue, Medicaid also covers palliative care. Social workers at palliative care organizations can also be a great advocate in finding payment sources for those who would not otherwise be able to afford care.

In Colorado, we have the benefit of a strong, state-wide organization to help families explore resources. The Colorado Center for Hospice and Palliative Care has a thoughtfully designed FAQ page on their site (http://www.cochpc.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=7). You can likely find answers to any additional questions you may have there.

Has your physician or a loved one's physician talked with you about palliative care?

From personal care needs and case management to guardianship concerns, Seniors in Transition provides consulting services to help families turn frustrating health care problems into quality, affordable solutions. Seniors in Transition is here to help families in the Fort Collins, CO and Loveland, CO areas. Visit our website at www.seniorsintrans.com or call 970.204.6977, today.

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