Palliative Care for Those with Life-Threatening Illness
Palliative care assists patients and families in making complex health decisions and maintaining control over their medical care. Palliative medicine is offered to patients who are diagnosed with a life-limiting disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, dementia or severe heart disease. It is also recommended for patients who have experienced a serious medical event such as heart attack, respiratory failure or stroke. Palliative care is given regardless of the stage of disease or the need for other therapies and can be provided concurrently with life-prolonging care or as the main focus of care.
Palliative medicine at Franciscan Health gives patients pain and symptom management for an improved quality of life. We also assist patients and their family members in making important decisions about medical care and end-of-life issues that reflect their wishes and values.
Palliative care vs. hospice care
Patients often confuse palliative care with hospice care. Hospice care begins only after the patient is diagnosed as terminally ill. It is intended to help them have the best possible quality of life when it has been determined that nothing can be done medically to cure their illness.
Palliative medicine, on the other hand, doesn't wait until a terminal diagnosis. It can start as soon as you're admitted to the hospital and continue throughout your treatment.
Palliative care objectives
Palliative care is both a philosophy of care and an organized system of caring for our patients. It is appropriate for anyone, of any age, who has a serious illness. The goal of palliative care is to relieve suffering and provide the best possible quality of life for people facing the pain, symptoms and stresses of serious illness. It can be provided along with treatments that are meant to cure.
The palliative medicine care team strives to meet these objectives:
- Provide patients and their families with better understanding of their condition and choices for care and assistance.
- Give relief and expert treatment from distressing symptoms such as pain, nausea, shortness of breath, extreme tiredness, constipation and difficulty sleeping.
- Assist with finding care after hospitalization.
- Integrate emotional, psychological and spiritual support for patient and family.
- Help with advance care planning, establishing patient and family goals and difficult decision making.
- Help with understanding and finding resources in the health care system.
- Assist with decisions to start or stop treatments.