What is palliative care?
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) define palliative care as specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. A few examples of serious illnesses include dementia, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, heart failure, and chronic obstructive lung disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 56.8 million people need palliative care each year.
What does accepting palliative care mean?
Accepting palliative care is not a death sentence. Palliative care focuses on the cure of serious illness, relief from symptoms and quality of life for the patient and their family. Palliative care can be used at any time after diagnosis of a serious illness. Palliative care may be helpful to older adults suffering with a lot of general discomfort and disabilities. The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) states that “You don’t have to be in hospice or at the end of life to receive palliative care.”
Accepting early palliative care is best. Palliative care reduces unnecessary hospital admissions and other health services.
How do we decide if palliative care is right for me?
Palliative care uses a team approach and according to the NINR, patients do NOT give up their health care provider to get palliative care. The palliative care team and your medical care provider work closely together.
Each palliative care team is different. A palliative care team may include doctors and nurses, social workers, nutritionists, religious advisors, pharmacists, counselors and therapists.
You may have to ask your health care provider for a referral to get palliative care services. Ask your medical care provider about palliative care services and how to access them.
Where is palliative care provided?
Palliative care can be provided at home, in hospitals, nursing homes, or outpatient palliative care clinics.
How can we pay for palliative care?
- Many private insurance plans partially cover palliative care.
- Medicare and Medicaid typically cover most palliative care services.
- Veterans may be eligible for palliative care through their Department of Veterans Affairs benefits.
- If you have long term care insurance, contact your insurance company to see if palliative care is included in your policy.
What happens when we no longer need palliative care?
If a patient decides to stop treatment for their serious illness or is near the end of life, they may decide to enter hospice care. If the doctor or the palliative care team believes that continuing treatment is no longer helping, they may recommend hospice care or continue to help by emphasizing comfort care.
Not sure if your loved one needs palliative care? How Care is There can help:
- Help you understand the services offered by palliative care and determine if those services are appropriate for your loved one
- Help your loved one access palliative care
- Attend doctor’s visits and advocate for your loved one
- Help you choose a palliative care team
- Help you determine how to pay for palliative care
- Help your loved one communicate with the palliative care team and assure that your loved one’s needs are met
Contact Care is There today for a free consultation!
Central Virginia: 434.326.5323
Shenandoah Valley: 540.246.0211
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