Last week I wrote about Hospice care. Today I am going to focus on Palliative Care.
WHAT is Palliative Care?
Palliative Care is an additional layer of support for individuals facing a serious or chronic illness, such as cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), kidney failure, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and many more. Individuals seeking Palliative Care might still be seeking aggressive treatment for the illness. Palliative Care can also be started earlier, and then proceed into Hospice as the illness progresses.
WHO provides care?
Similar to Hospice, Palliative Care is a team-based approach. Members of the team can include:
WHO pays for Palliative Care?
Most insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare cover the costs of Palliative Care.
WHERE is Palliative Care provided?
Similar to Hospice, Palliative Care can be provided in a variety of settings - including the hospital, outpatient settings, at home, in a nursing home, or in a residential hospice. Again, it is not a place where you go, just like Hospice, Palliative Care comes to you.
ARE Hospice and Palliative Care the same thing?
While some of their components overlap, they are not the same thing. Some of the similarities include: focus on quality of life, a team approach, an added layer of support, family and caregiver care, as well as pain and symptom management.
HOW is Hospice different than Palliative Care?
Here are a couple of the main differences.
Betty receives a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer. The prognosis is not great, but they have some options for how to try to cure her. Betty asks for Palliative Care services to help support her and her family, pain management as she goes through treatment, and the other supportive services that Palliative Care provides. Betty is surrounded by not only her trusted physician, but other experts who are familiar with serious illnesses. They are going to try everything to cure the cancer as best they can. While they do this, Betty's Palliative Care team is helping in many ways to improve or maintain her quality of life.
Fast forward 1 year. Betty has gone through multiple treatments for her cancer, but it has still advanced. At this point, her primary physician and Palliative Care physician agree, she has less than 6 months left of life. They suggest that she move forward with Hospice care. Betty then gets a new team of support, who are familiar with end of life care. They are focused on making her as comfortable as possible. They also are helping her family cope with the loss they are about to experience. Betty is able to live at her daughter's house because she is familiar with her space and comfortable there. Her Hospice care team takes great care of her, even when she is in her own bed. Her family feels comforted as well, knowing that expert care is only a phone call away, 24/7.
Fast forward 4 months. Betty has died. She was surrounded by her children, and her Hospice care team arrive shortly after. Her children are having a hard time dealing with the loss of their mother, so they seek bereavement counseling from the Hospice team for the next 13 months.
For more information on Palliative Care, go to the Get Palliative Care website, as well as this particular handout.
Caregiving can be many things. It can be rewarding, enlightening, and at many times very enjoyable. It can also be exhausting, mentally and physically.
November is National Family Caregivers Month. As you reflect on your role as a caregiver, now is a great time to think about ways you can take care of yourself. It is important to give care not only for your family member, but also for you. What are some ways that you can take care of yourself in this next month?
Maybe you could..
The important thing is that you make time for yourself.
For me, I'm going to go have a cup of tea.
Here are some great resources for caregivers.
Tamara will be posting about topics relevant to caregivers and seniors. More conversations take place on our Facebook Page.