If you are considering palliative care options for a loved one, or even for yourself, you may find the wealth of information out there overwhelming. We get it! That’s why this month, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions regarding palliative care. Reading these should provide you with some confidence about the options available to you, or at least provide a strong jumping-off point for your continued research.
Palliative Care: FAQs for You and Your Loved Ones
Is palliative care the same as curative care?
No! Palliative care differs from curative care in that the former deals with diagnosing, treating, and preventing symptoms associated with serious, or life-threatening, illnesses. The goal of curative care is to create complete relief from the symptoms. Palliative management, on the other hand, includes the comfort and pain management for seriously ill or terminally ill patients. Palliative care also includes psychological counseling and support for the patient and their loved ones as they go through the process of managing a chronic illness.
While curative care deals with providing cures to serious illnesses, palliative care deals more with comfort and pain management. An example of curative care might be chemotherapy for patients with cancer. However, in this instance, curative care and palliative care would go together hand-in-hand to ensure that the patient has the best medical outcomes while managing the often painful and debilitating side-effects of treatment.
What can I expect from my palliative care team?
Your palliative care team will work closely with the medical teams that are currently handling your medical care. The team will also communicate with you to get a full understanding of your palliative care options, preferences, and choices. They will look at how treatment can be paired with suitable palliative options, including medication and therapeutic activities, as well as non-pharmacologic options for symptoms and drug side effects. Working closely with your medical team, the palliative care team makes sure that you stay comfortable and able to manage pain, whether you are in the last stages of illness or undergoing a full curative care regimen.
Is palliative care covered by insurance?
Most insurance policies cover palliative care as part of their basic coverage. If you have Medicare or Medicaid, expenses for palliative care are likely covered. Look at your policy to make sure to look at the specifics of coverage. If your insurance doesn’t offer coverage, or you don’t have insurance, you can talk to a social worker or a financial consultant about possible financing options for your individual situation.
What role does my doctor play in palliative care?
Your doctor is expected to work in partnership with your palliative care team to create a management plan for your healthcare. Opting to receive palliative care doesn’t mean that you have to give up your own doctor, especially if you plan on getting curative treatments while under palliative care.
What role do my loved ones play in palliative care?
People have the misconceptions that loved ones are effectively out of the picture once a palliative care team steps in. In reality, loved ones are given a better opportunity to care for their ill family member when a palliative care team is present. For one, palliative management allows the patient the option to choose a loved one as a primary caregiver who can work in partnership with the palliative care team. Palliative care services also include psychological assistance so that family members can deal with grief, anxiety, and stress in a more productive way. Most importantly, palliative care takes care of the technical side of providing comfort and care, so loved ones can focus on giving the ill family member the emotional support he or she needs most.
Am I a good candidate for palliative care?
It depends. Your doctor is in the best position to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for palliative care. Generally, patients with serious illnesses are good candidates for palliative care. These illnesses include cancer, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, ALS, and other debilitating illnesses that could impact your quality of life over time. Palliative care can also be suitable for patients currently undergoing curative treatment.
Palliative care may be a strange and alien scenario for many patients and their families. However, professional palliative care members are there to help patients and their loved ones as they walk through this process. With competent and caring care services, family members can work with team members, spend valuable time with sick loved ones, and gather the emotional strength needed to provide support during a trying time.
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