Palliative care: Supporting those facing a fatal illness
In the clinical world, palliative care is known as treatment given to patients with a life-threatening or life-limiting illness. It is the specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses like cancer, cardiac disease such as congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and many more.
Many times confused with hospice care, palliative care is more about treating suffering by focusing on symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and depression. It also helps patients gain the strength to carry on with daily life. It improves their ability to tolerate medical treatments and helps them have more control over their care by improving communication so they can better understand their choices for treatment.
The palliative care team, a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support, spends as much time as necessary with the patient and their family. They become a partner with patients, family members and other doctors. They support patients and their families every step of the way, not only by controlling symptoms, but also by helping patients to understand your treatment options and goals. Working together with a patient’s primary doctor, the palliative care team provides:
- Close communication
- Expert management of pain and other symptoms
- Help navigating the healthcare system
- Guidance with difficult and complex treatment choices
- Emotional and spiritual support for patients and family
For more information about the palliative care teams throughout Saint Thomas Health’s family of hospitals, or if you are in need of a palliative care team consultation, please visit www.sths.com.