Navigating the Landscape of Palliative Care

The palliative care industry emerged as a way to provide comfort and support for those navigating long-term illness and health care options. Palliative care is comprised of various pain and symptom management services, along with counseling and support for patients and their families.

 

What is “symptom management?”

Symptom management refers to various methods used to alleviate the pain and discomfort surrounding serious illness. Some challenges that palliative care addresses include shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, lack of appetite and nausea.

 

How does counseling help?

Many families are faced with the struggle of caring for a loved one suffering from serious illness but are not equipped to handle the situation alone. Palliative counseling helps families identify their goals and determine the best method of care based on each unique situation. Once the method(s) of care have been chosen, palliative care professionals continue to offer guidance in the form of coping mechanisms, community resources, financial concerns and more.

 

Palliative v. Hospice

Oftentimes, the term “palliative” is confused with “hospice,” but the two methods of care differ greatly. Whereas hospice care is reserved for patients with a prognosis of six months or fewer, palliative care is available for patients of all ages and during all stages of serious illnesses, including but not limited to cancer, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc.

 

Palliative v. Primary Physician

Palliative care does not work against primary medical care but in collaboration with such care. While doctors focus mostly on general health and treating the disease, palliative care professionals have the specialized skills to provide daily comfort and additional guidance.

 

Where is Palliative Care available?

Pathways in Fort Collins is a nonprofit hospice, palliative care and grief management organization that has served Larimer and Weld Counties for nearly 40 years. Our palliative care team consists of a physician, advanced practice nurse or nurse practitioner and medical social worker, all with expertise in pain control, other symptom management, and psychosocial intervention. Telephone assistance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Evan Hyatt who is the President of Pathways.  He may be reached at 970-663-3500  or by email at Evan.hyatt@pathways-care.org