It is never easy for the elderly to live with a serious illness of any form.
You need to deal with pain as well as other kinds of uncomfortable symptoms. You feel afraid of what your future holds and worried how your family and loved ones cope with your illness.
This is where palliative care for the elderly can help.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is a type of treatment for physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms that may occur when a person is suffering from a serious illness. With today’s palliative care, caregivers and doctors focus not just on life extension or cure but also on the improvement of a patient’s everyday life.
Palliative care, for example, focuses on reducing cancer symptoms that can be life draining. These include the physical pain, fatigue, and nausea that are often associated with cancer as well as treatments such as chemotherapy.
Suffering an illness such as cancer may also lead to anxiety and depression. There are instances when a palliative care giver might also help seniors choose not to undergo chemotherapy due to its side effects. There are some seniors who believe that it would be better to live a shorter but fuller life instead of living a longer life filled with discomfort and pain.
What are the Benefits of Palliative Care?
Palliative care can help improve the communication between healthcare providers and patients. Coordination of care among the patient, the patient’s family, and healthcare providers are also improved.
It also opens discussions regarding management of symptoms and options for treatment to ensure that the patient will be more involved. Palliative care can relieve discomfort and pain from symptoms including shortness of breath and nausea.
Palliative care can also meet the patient’s emotional needs and offer spiritual needs as well.
Why Would an Elderly Need Palliative Care?
It is important to remember that palliative care is a form of whole-person care. This helps patients in the management of stress and the burden of serious illness to help them improve their quality of life. Thanks to palliative care, patients can handle the aggressive treatments as it helps control the side effects and pain so they can fight off the disease better.
There are studies that revealed how cancer patients receiving palliative care have higher chances of completing chemotherapy. It is also reported that they have better quality of life compared to those patients who don’t receive any palliative care.
When Do You Need Palliative Care?
You can consider getting palliative care if:
- You or your elderly loved one suffers from psychological or emotional pain because of an illness.
- You or your elderly loved one suffers from physical pain from serious illness or the side effects from treating that illness.
- You or your elderly loved one requires help in understanding the specific situation.
- You or your elderly loved one needs help in coordinating the necessary care.
Who Offers Palliative Care?
Doctors with special training in providing palliative medicine and a team of caregivers such as nurses, chaplains, social workers, dietitians, volunteers, physical therapists and others provide palliative care. Palliative doctors are working hand in hand with the other doctors of the patient who are administering treatments for curing the illness.
For physical pains, doctors might prescribe morphine as well as other opiate like oxycodone and hydrocodone.
For conditions like depression and anxiety, you can undergo psychotherapy together with prescribed anti-anxiety or antidepressant drugs. Psychotherapy might include relaxation methods and skills for coping for things like negative thoughts.
Chaplains and ministers can also address topics of the afterlife, religion, and death and discuss feelings like remorse and disappointment.
How to Get Palliative Care
You will need a doctor’s palliative care referral to get one. Patients should inform their family and their medical care providers including doctors, nurses, and specialists that they want It. They also have to describe to their doctor what their definition of quality of life is, such as spending more time with the loved ones, getting treated at their chosen place such as their home, and being relatively free from pain. Patients should also share their personal, religious, and cultural beliefs that might affect the decisions for treatment.
Those who are thinking of getting palliative care should ask their personal doctor to refer them to a palliative doctor or ask if there is a palliative specialist in the local hospital.
Physical Symptoms That Palliative Care Can Help Relieve
Palliative care can relieve symptoms including pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, constipation, sleep problems, loss of appetite as well as other symptoms of a disease and side effects of a disease treatment.
What Illnesses Can Receive Palliative Care?
Patients who have incurable and progressive diseases should receive palliative care. These include, but are not limited to strokes, cancer, respiratory disease, cardiac disease, dementia, kidney failure, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. Aside from these, families of such patients can also take advantage of palliative care.
Can You Consult Your Personal Doctor While Receiving Palliative Care?
Yes, you can still visit your personal doctor even while receiving palliative care. Your palliative care doctor will coordinate care with the rest of your doctors and help you navigate the usually complicated healthcare system.
When Does a Patient Receive Palliative Care?
A patient can receive palliative care right from the moment of diagnosis and during the course of the illness.
Where is Palliative Care Given?
Palliative care is being offered in long-term care facilities, hospitals, and even at home.
Is Palliative Care Covered by Insurance?
Yes, many private insurance companies offer coverage for at least part of palliative care as well as Medicaid and Medicare.
Palliative care for the elderly can be critical for patients who suffer for serious illnesses and even for the patient’s loved ones. This has been designed to reduce the physical pain, address the emotional trauma, and lessen the stress associated with treatment. For elderly undergoing treatment for serious illness, it is best to ask for palliative care from the doctor.