What is Palliative Care?

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Palliative care has been defined as “interdisciplinary care that aims to relieve suffering and improve quality of life for patients with advanced illness and their families. It is offered simultaneously with all appropriate treatment. It aims to control pain, help facilitate communication among treating clinicians and the communication of clinicians with patients and families.

It relies on the skills of a team comprised from several disciplines, among which are social service, pastoral care, specially trained physicians and nurses and volunteers, to achieve its goal of the alleviation of suffering, and especially belongs in the plan of care for patients when the benefits of continued technological treatment outweigh the burdens of that treatment as appreciated by the patient and family.

Additional assistance may also include home nursing care, personal care, homemaking services and transportation to name a few.

Palliative care is often confused with hospice care, which are two different forms of care. While the goal of hospice care is to provide ease and comfort for someone on their final stages of life, palliative care provides patients ease from painful symptoms they may be facing due to their illness, no matter their diagnosis.

The services palliative care offers can help individuals who have cancer, stroke, heart disease, cystic fibrosis, among other types of serious illnesses. Palliative care also helps ease with the discomfort that comes with a serious illness, such as nausea, vomiting, anxiety, constipation, sleeping, breathing problems, and more.

For palliative care to work effectively, the patient and the caregiver must be in sync with one another. Studies show that major depression is a substantial risk for in-home caregivers to those with advanced chronic illness. There is a striking 60% increased risk of death among the 30% of caregivers who reported emotional stress.

While it is a great priority to find palliative services that best suit your loved one’s needs, it is also important to keep in mind the health of the caregiver.

The Washoe Caregivers Guidebook is an instructional manual for caregivers. It offers helpful advice such as self-care tips for the caregiver, and why it is important. The guidebooks also go a little further in-depth on the difference between palliative care and hospice care, which may be helpful for a first time family caregiver to know.

Along with the Washoe Caregivers Guidebooks is its accompanying website, WashoeCaregivers.org, which lists over 300 community resources, such as respite care services and palliative care services, and more.

For more information, please visit WashoeCaregivers.org and download a free copy of the guidebook here: https://washoecaregivers.org/guidebook/.



Dan Ahearn