Palliative (pal-lee-uh-tiv) medicine is a specialty for anyone of any age living with a chronic or serious illness. This care helps people live each day as fully as possible by relieving pain and other distressing symptoms and providing support to the patient and family.
Who provides care? The palliative team may include a physician, RN or advanced practice nurse and a social worker. Providers are skilled at helping patients and families navigate the often complex emotional and practical considerations of living with illness.
How does it work? Palliative Care starts with a meeting between the patient, family and the palliative provider. The first question is: What’s important to you? The answer informs a person’s unique plan of care. Palliative practitioners work with with a person’s existing primary care doctor and specialists, adding a layer of care.
Support at Crossroads When patients find themselves with decisions about treatment or planning for their lives, the palliative practitioner can provide understanding and guidance. Providers can tailor medication or other treatment so people have more energy for living their lives.
Family Support One of patients’ top concerns is how their disease or illness impacts the people closest to them. Palliative care helps people understand and talk about their illness better and provides family with support, tools and information.
Where is palliative care provided? Care is provided in a person’s private residence, assisted living or skilled nursing facility or the hospital setting.
Who pays for palliative care? Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance covers all or part of palliative care.
As the wife of a palliative patient noted: Oncologists treat cancer, cardiologists the heart.
But what happens to the rest of you? Palliative care can be the facilitator for all to work together for the common good of the whole person.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Kelly Bastian, FNP-C, Managing Director of Agape Palliative Care. For more information she may be reached at 720-482-1988.