Four “C”s Can Help You Understand Palliative Care
Many people living with a serious illness miss out on getting palliative care because they don’t know about it and how it works. Palliative care is specialized medical care that treats the symptoms and stress of serious illness. Palliative care treats any serious illness, but the most common ones are cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Understanding the following four “C”s can help you and your family talk to your doctor and ask for palliative care.
Palliative care focuses on improving quality of life by treating a range of symptoms and stress issues such as pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, nausea, loss of appetite, nutrition. They provide an extra layer of support for both the patient and the family, especially the family caregivers. You can have palliative care from the point of diagnosis and along with treatment meant to cure you.
Palliative care helps give back control to you and your family by closely communicating with you to understand what matters the most and letting you make active decisions. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. It can even improve your ability to tolerate medical treatments.
It’s important to know that teams of medical providers who are specially trained in palliative care work in partnership with your primary doctor. The team provides an extra layer of support. You can also have palliative care along with your curative treatment. It is right for people at any stage of illness, any age and whether you’re in the hospital or at home.
Equally important is that the palliative care team works with you and your family to understand your concerns about your disease, its symptoms and side effects from treatment. They will also spend as much time as it takes to understand what your personal goals are for your quality of life. One of the first things that happens when a palliative care team is added is a meeting where the team finds out exactly what you need and want. They will explain their role, how you can reach them and when to do so, as well as how they will work with your primary doctor.
Learn more by hearing the stories of patients and families who have benefitted from palliative care. Their illnesses include multiple myeloma, aplastic anemia, rheumatoid arthritis plus lupus, diabetes complicated by congestive heart failure, and many more.
GetPalliativeCare.org is an online resource for patients and families that focuses solely on providing information on palliative care from the point of diagnosis. At GetPalliativeCare.org you can take a short quiz to see whether you or a loved one could benefit from palliative care. The site is provided by the Center to Advance Palliative Care.