What is Palliative Care?
By Jet Hall
The moment a person is diagnosed with a disease or
illness is life-changing for both patients and their families.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of medical researchers, many
conditions, including diseases like cancer, are now routinely
discovered in their earliest stages, which greatly improves
While medical care typically focuses on treating and curing
a disease or illness, sometimes patient care focuses on improving
quality of life. Such care is known as palliative care.
What is the goal of palliative care? According to the Center
to Advance Palliative Care, palliative care teams treat
people suffering from the symptoms and stress of serious illnesses.
Such illnesses may include cancer, congestive heart
failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Alzheimer’s
disease, and Parkinson’s disease, among others.
Alleviating suffering is the goal of palliative care. People
with serious illnesses often deal with symptoms such as pain,
depression, fatigue, and anxiety, and palliative care teams try
to help them overcome these symptoms so they can enjoy a
better quality of life. Such care has been shown to have remarkable
effects. A recent study published in the New England
Journal of Medicine found that patients with a serious
illness who received palliative care lived longer than patients
who received no such care.
Who forms a palliative care team? Palliative care teams
are made up of specialists who can tend to an assortment of
patients’ needs, including their physical, psychological and
social needs. A palliative care team may include doctors,
nurses and other healthcare specialists. Palliative care teams
routinely communicate with patients’ physicians so everyone
is on the same page.
Palliative care can be
invaluable to people diagnosed
with serious illnesses.
Patients and their family
members can discuss palliative
care with their physicians
and their healthcare
providers. Learn more
about palliative care at
Tips when choosing a
hospice facility Learning
a loved one has been diagnosed
with a terminal
illness is an emotional experience.
In such instances,
people tend to have many
questions, including what
they can do to make their
loved ones as comfortable and content as possible.
Hospice care is a solution for many families looking to
improve the quality of life of someone dealing with a terminal
illness. According to the Hospice Foundation of America,
hospice care aims to help people with terminal illnesses live
as well as possible for as long as possible. Increasing quality
of life is one of the goals of hospice care. Hospice facilities are
typically staffed with a host of interdisciplinary professionals
who are tasked with addressing the physical, psychosocial
and spiritual distress that often confronts terminally ill patients
and their families.
Many people are unfamiliar with hospice care and may
themselves or their loved ones. Before hospice is considered,
it may be wise to discuss the timing of such care with the patient’s
The timing of hospice care Determining when the time
ing with their loved one’s physician, but certain factors may
indicate it’s time for hospice. It’s generally time for hospice
when a patient has 6 months or less to live. Patients who are
receiving medical treatment but whose conditions are declin-
nitive decline or an inability to perform daily activities, may
require hospice care. The patients themselves may indicate
they are ready to forego treatment aimed at prolonging life,
and, in such situations, hospice care can make their remaining
days as comfortable as possible.
Here are some helpful tips to make the process of choosing
a hospice facility go as smoothly as possible.
Seek recommendations. Word-of-mouth can be a great
planners or social workers typically have lists of local hospice
providers. In addition, physicians often interact with hospice
providers, so their insight can be invaluable.
Interview hospice representatives. Patients, when capable,
or caregivers typically meet with hospice facility representatives
to discuss services and answer questions. Prepare
questions in advance, and make sure that the visit is free and
does not obligate families to choose the provider the person
Ask the right questions. Ask questions before choosing
a hospice facility. Such questions should pertain to the plan
of care the hospice intends to employ; how quickly the facility
will get a handle on pain and/or other symptoms; what
happens if a patient does not respond; and if there are any
services the facility will not provide. Additional questions to
ask can be found at www.hospicefoundation.org.
22 • NOVEMBER 2019 813.682.9364 FLORIDA WOMEN MAGAZINE