First off, let us make sure we are on the same page when we understand what palliative care means. The medication brings down pain or discomfort but does not fight against the disease. Palliative care aims to make patients as comfortable as possible while undergoing treatment. One can also carry out these types of therapies at home or even in a healthcare setting.
A doctor can use palliative care at any stage of cancer treatment; whether it is early stage, recurrent/locally progressed stage, or metastatic stage. The main aim is to improve the quality of life while reducing pain and discomfort. When palliative care teams collaborate with cancer doctors, people with cancer benefit from reduced symptoms, more excellent communication, and psychological and spiritual care. They also have someone to assist them plan for the future. Patients can resume regular activities once their symptoms manage.
You can also have a quick conversation with the palliative care team members about mental illness, anxiety, body image and sexuality concerns. Palliative care teams help not only patients but also their families, who are suffering from the sickness. Family members can support their loved ones if they feel supported by palliative care specialists. Get a referral from your medical practitioner if you or a loved one requires palliative care.
Is palliative care the same as hospice care?
Palliative care and hospice care have differences, but hospice care is regarded as palliative care. The main aim of hospice care is to keep an individual as comfortable as possible when the treatment is ruled out to cure Cancer. Some of the health insurance that includes Medicare pay for hospice care if the individual is expected to live for six months or less.
Who gives palliative care?
Palliative care is generally provided by experts who are trained to be palliative care specialists health care practitioners; and who have undergone special training or certification in palliative care. They follow a holistic approach with patients and their families or caregivers that focus on the physical, emotional, social and spiritual issues that the cancer patient may face during his or her journey.
Usually, Palliative care experts and specialists work as a group or a part of a multidisciplinary team; that includes medical practitioners, nurses, registered dieticians, pharmacists, occupational therapists, psychologists, chaplains, and social workers.
Palliative care specialists also provide caregiver support, facilitate communication among members of the health care team, and help with discussions focusing on patient care goals.
What are the issues addressed in palliative care?
Cancer’s physical and emotional effects and treatment may ultimately vary from individual to individual. These types of therapies can assist a wide range of problems, which further integrates an individual’s needs into care. A palliative care specialist or an expert will consider the following issues for each and every patient.
Physical – The regular physical symptoms that one can address include pain, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, insomnia and loss of appetite.
Emotional and coping – Palliative care specialists or experts help to offer resources to help patients and families deal with the emotions that come along with cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment. Palliative care addresses a few of the concerns like fear, anxiety, and depression.
Spiritual – Cancer diagnosis and its treatment can usually make an individual think about the bigger picture in life. They also try to look more in-depth for meaning in their lives. Some find the disease brings them closer to their faith or spiritual beliefs; whereas others struggle to understand why Cancer happened to them.
The caregiver needs – One of the most important roots of cancer treatment are family members and friends. Like the patient, even the caregiver suffers and goes through a lot. It becomes very overwhelming as the responsibilities are massive. Many find it very difficult to care for their loved ones who is sick while trying to handle other commitments; such as house duties, work, and also looking after the family. The uncertainty and panic about how to help their loved one with these medical situations and inadequate support all add to the caregiver’s stress and fear.
These situations can affect the caregiver’s health. Palliative care experts can also help families and friends handle the condition better and provide the support they need.
Practical needs – Palliative care specialists also help the patients by providing financial help and legal aid, queries regarding insurance, and issues with respect to employment. Talking about the goals of such therapies is a critical phase of palliative care. These types of discussions can include talking about advance directives; and also assist in the communication among family members, caregivers, and members of the oncology medical care team.
Your palliative care team
Palliative care can begin with your cancer care team. It is important to tell them about any differences or symptoms you have. Also, discuss with your medical practitioner and health care team about any life changes or situations; like requiring rides to the hospital and also some time off work. The health care team can contact other palliative care professionals; and if needed, you can also get a second opinion on who could be the best in the field.
Any social worker or volunteer who can help the patient with day to day activities and issues such as adjusting to a new diagnosis, managing medications and arranging rides to the hospitals.
A psychologist, professional counsellor or a life specialist are the go-to people who can help with mental and emotional health issues and also personal problems. However, if your child is with cancer, consider a child life specialist.
A spiritual advisor or a chaplain who can assist you will face mental fears, self-doubts and also queries about life illness. They can become your secondary source of support, and you do not have to be pious to talk with a spiritual advisor or a chaplain.
Paying for palliative care
The health insurance may cover palliative care expenses as a part of your cancer treatment. For example, Suppose you need to consult a physical therapist for any assistance with needing to increase the amount of physical activity during the cancer treatment. In that case, This falls under the bracket of cancer care.
Medicare and Medicaid usually cover the expenses for palliative care. Medicare in the United States of America is for older patients. Medicaid is a government health insurance policy who earn less than a specified amount.
Consult and discuss with your medical practitioner or your palliative care team about the different types of treatment expenses, if the costs fall under the insurance bracket, and where to find assistance. Any social worker or a financial advisor can help you find ways to pay for the treatment. Learn more about health insurance coverage and managing the cost of cancer care.
More about Palliative Care
Talking about your diagnosis, treatment plans, and also personal needs is an important part of palliative care. These discussions ensure that the patient and also the medical health care team is aware of what you want and what are your expectations from the treatment and also the overall care. Palliative care is one of the most effective therapies when there is a collaboration between you, your family and your medical health care team.
Here are some of the pointers for communicating with your medical practitioner and the health care team
- Inquire about your diagnosis, treatment procedure and also prognosis with your medical practitioner. The prognosis refers to the likelihood of your recovery. It is also essential to ask questions because these may change over a period of time. You can also take notes or bring someone with you to your consultation to help you remember things.
- If there is anything you don’t understand, ask your medical practitioner also your medical health care team to explain it to you in an understandable manner. This could be a medical term, any treatment, or something completely different.
- Also, inquire about your needs in terms of social, emotional, functional, and spiritual. To give you and your family a few options, here is a list of questions to ask the medical practitioner
- Any pain or discomfort, or other side effects should be reported to your medical practitioner. Do this even if you don’t think they are severe or if you are worried your Cancer is starting to mature and spread. Telling your medical practitioner about your symptoms allows them to find the best treatment option for your quicker. There are a number of options available today for symptom relief.
- Please make a list of any symptoms and the side effects you are going through, including when they occur, how often they occur and also what time of the day they are felt, and how severe they are. Give your medical practitioner and also the nurse a copy of your notes.
- This tracking assists your medical practitioner and also the health care team in determining the source of the problem and treating it.
- Consult your physician about the palliative care options available to you.
- You could also request an appointment with a medical practitioner who specialises in the field of palliative care.