Palliative Care Helps the Caregiver, Too
If you are caring for someone receiving palliative care or for someone who needs it, you should know that the palliative care team will help you, too.
Caregiving can include lifting, bathing, delivering meals, taking loved ones to doctor visits, handling difficult behaviors, and managing medications and family conflicts. But this care can lead to lost work hours or lost jobs, high stress, and a serious decline in physical and mental health. In fact, 1 of 5 caregivers reports a decline in their physical, emotional, and social health.
Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of an illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
Below are three ways palliative care teams support caregivers:
They will make sure you stay informed
Knowing what to expect can help a caregiver prepare for the ups and downs of a serious illness. Families are encouraged to attend every palliative care meeting so that everyone is always on the same page. During these meetings, the palliative care team takes the time to explain how the illness may affect your loved one, now and in the future. Together, you will explore your loved one’s goals, matching them to available treatment options. All of this so you and your loved one can make informed decisions, together.
They will provide you with useful tools and resources
The palliative care team will also support you, and your well-being. They will offer you guidance for taking care of your loved one, connect you with community resources, and make sure that you are taking care of your own physical and emotional health.
When people are ill, they may have to change the way they do their daily activities, like walking, eating, or going to the bathroom. Palliative care specialists will help them manage their symptoms, like pain and discomfort, and teach you ways to help support your loved ones with these tasks.
They will also help you manage stress
Your loved one may be feeling frustrated and stressed with their illness. You may be feeling similarly. Palliative care specialists will dedicate time to listen to patients and help them focus on the things they can control like reaching small goals or doing the things that used to make them happy (e.g., gardening).
This kind of support can also help caregivers. Palliative care specialists understand that if a caregiver’s concerns are not addressed, it can impact the patient’s well-being. That’s why caregiver stress is a big focus in their care. The palliative care team will work with you to answer your questions, hear your frustrations, and help you take the necessary steps needed to feel healthier and more focused in your role as caregiver.
For more information on how palliative care can support you in your caregiving journey, visit the Caregiver Corner. Palliative care is available in most hospitals and it is growing quickly in outpatient settings. In some areas, palliative care teams are available for home visits. You can also look for palliative care resources here.
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, and find a nearby provider. The site is provided by the Center to Advance Palliative Care.