Palliative care is often confused with end-of-life care. But they are two different types of care. Seniors who have a chronic incurable medical condition that is painful or impedes their ability to live well may benefit from palliative care. Palliative care is a specialized care that focuses on helping seniors live pain-free and live the best life they can even with a chronic medical condition. Often seniors get palliative care if they have conditions like:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Heart disease
- HIV & AIDS
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Lung disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s disease
Seniors who have chronic medical conditions often have elder care at home to help them with things like housework and cooking meals. Elder care is something that all seniors can benefit from. Palliative care is different.
Palliative care involves things like:
Holistic Approach To Care
Palliative care begins with a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. A team of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, and counselors, collaborates to understand the patient’s unique circumstances and challenges. Together the team will create a care plan that will address all of a senior’s needs to improve their quality of life.
The focus of palliative care is on relieving pain, managing symptoms, and reducing discomfort associated with the illness or its treatment. This may involve medication adjustments, physical therapy, counseling, and other interventions tailored to the patient’s needs. Seniors and their elder care team work together closely to make sure that seniors have access to everything they need to improve their quality of life.
Communication and Decision-Making
Palliative care emphasizes open and honest communication between the patient, family members, and the healthcare team. Discussions about treatment options, goals of care, and advance care planning are encouraged to align medical decisions with the patient’s values and preferences. Having these discussions with family members can be tough. Professional help from trained communicators can make them easier.
Emotional and Psychological Support
Serious illnesses can take an emotional toll on patients and their families. Palliative care offers counseling, emotional support, and coping strategies to help patients and their loved ones navigate the challenges they face. Palliative care teams can also arrange for counseling, help seniors find support groups, and provide other coping mechanisms to help seniors process their experiences.
Coordination of Care
Palliative care teams work closely with other healthcare providers to ensure seamless coordination of medical services. They assist in facilitating communication among specialists, primary care physicians, and other professionals involved in the patient’s care.
Support for Family Caregivers
When a senior parent has a chronic illness it can be hard on family caregivers too. Palliative care extends its support to family caregivers, recognizing the physical and emotional strain they may experience while caring for their loved ones. Respite care and guidance on caregiving are part of the palliative care approach.
Advance Care Planning
Palliative care professionals help patients and families explore and document their healthcare preferences in advance care directives. These documents ensure that the patient’s wishes are respected if they become unable to communicate their preferences.
Continuity of Care
Unlike end-of-life care or hospice care, palliative care is not time-limited. It can be provided alongside curative treatments or throughout the illness trajectory, adjusting to the changing needs of the patient and family.