Palliative Care does not equal hospice.
The objective of both is to provide pain and symptom relief, however, there are important differences.
Hospice care is provided without curative intent. Either there are no longer curative options available or the decision has been made to no longer pursue treatment because the side effects outweigh the anticipated benefit of the treatment.
Palliative care may be provided with or without curative intent.
Who is eligible for palliative care?
Cancer is a serious illness that touches all areas of a patient’s life as well as the lives of his/her loved ones. People with serious illnesses, like cancer, are eligible for palliative care.
Some of the physical effects of cancer on the individual include:
- Loss of appetite, nausea
- Shortness of breath
Some of the ways family and loved ones are affected include:
- Role reversals
- Shifting needs of family members
- Upset of balance of everyday responsibilities
- Financial burdens
Palliative care treats the emotional , social, practical and spiritual issues brought on by a cancer diagnosis.
Who provides palliative care?
Palliative care became a defined specialty in 2006. Although a relatively new specialty, most large hospitals have palliative care teams. The palliative care team is made up of physicians, nurses, dietician, social workers, and psychologists, occupational therapists and chaplains.
Palliative care may be offered by hospitals, home health agencies, cancer centers and long-term care facilities. There may be a palliative care specialist in your oncologist’s practice. If not they will be able to refer you to a palliative care specialist near you.
How can palliative care help me?
Palliative care does not treat your cancer; however, it does relieve the physical, emotional and psychosocial symptoms associated with the disease. Because every individual experiences cancer differently, your unique circumstance, personality and support system all play into how palliative care may help you .
Palliative care can provide relief in the following areas:
Coping and emotional stress, by addressing the anxiety, fear and depression that often accompanies a cancer diagnosis.
Physical pain, fatigue and loss of appetite are some of the symptoms experienced by patients that can be relieved with palliative care.
The practical concerns of families and caregivers, such as financial pressures, employment questions and transportation issues are examples of what a member of the palliative care team could assist you with.
Spiritual issues often come to the forefront when facing a life threatening illness and palliative care can help guide you through questions of faith.
Research has proven that palliative care is effective in improving the quality of life of cancer patients. When your symptoms are controlled and your practical needs are being met you feel better and live better.
If you would like more information on how to locate a palliative care specialist to support you during your treatment please call Dana at 703-403-7600 for assistance