Submitted by Carol Tomlinson, RN BS
Community Health Educator
Palliative Care: Myths & Facts
There is a relatively new medical specialty, begun 2006 in the US, called Palliative Care. It has its own distinct mission – to relieve suffering and improve the quality of life for people with serious illness. While there are similarities to Hospice Care, it is not just for end stage illness.
According to the Center To Advance Palliative Care, this type of treatment is appropriate at any age and any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment. Palliative Care also provides support and guidance to families.
Palliative Care (PC) Myths Include:
- Palliative care can only be provided in a hospital. In fact, PC can be provided at home, in clinics, hospice, assisted living and nursing home settings.
- Medicare does not pay for palliative care. Actually, Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance plans cover this type of care.
- Only my primary care doctor can suggest this type of treatment. The fact is your doctor does play a significant role but it is up to you and your family. Let your family, caregivers and physician know you are interested in this care.
- Palliative Care is only provided by doctors and nurses. PC is truly a team of professionals. While physicians and nurses are team members, so too are therapists, social workers, nutritionists, chaplains and even massage therapists.
- The only diagnosis accepted for Palliative Care is Cancer. The truth is that virtually any serious or chronic illness may qualify. PC may be right for you or your family member if you suffer from pain, stress or other symptoms of serious illness. Such illness may include cancer, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), ALS, among others.
- Once I choose Palliative Care, I will always have to be in the program. The reality is people move in and out of PC treatment as their needs and wants dictate.
- The main goal of Palliative Care is to reduce pain. You can expect relief from symptoms and issues that are important to you. Such symptoms often include pain management, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, constipation, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. PC helps you carry on with your daily life. It improves your ability to cope with medical treatments and helps you to better understand your condition. Additionally, people who face serious illness often need the emotional and spiritual support that is provided with PC.
When it comes to quality of life, each patient has his or her own vision. Each suffering is unique. Each individual is unique. Each family and the dynamics are unique. Palliative Care is holistic and extends to family members and caregivers. It may also be utilized to provide education and counseling, respite for caregivers and home help with meals, shopping and transportation. PC is uniquely designed to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their families as they define it.
For more information, attend a free presentation on “Palliative Care” on Wednesday, September 28 from 12 noon to 1 p.m. in the auditorium of Nathan Littauer Hospital, 99 E. State Street, Gloversville.
You can also talk to your health care provider, contact the Center To Advance Palliative Care at capc.org, or call HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our new wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.