Before you need end of life care, some important decisions should be discussed, and arrangements made. It is important to decide what form of care you want to receive if you become ill while you are still active and in sound mind. Communicating your health care decisions is critical.
Palliative care, although an end of life care service, is unlike hospice. Hospice care is care specifically for end of life, with most individuals in hospice for a short time. Palliative care is an option for individuals with a life-threatening illness. For diseases that cannot be cured or treated, palliative care offers pain management. It also provides support to the individual. Support and treating the symptoms to cope with the physical, mental and emotional pain offer improved quality of life from diagnosis to death. Living life to the fullest with dignity is also part of the process.
The word palliate means to make comfortable by treating the symptoms from the illness. Palliative care provides comfort and support. It focuses on helping the individual be comfortable by addressing the physical as well as the emotional suffering. The goal is to improve the quality of life for the patient as well as the family. Anyone can receive palliative care, whereas hospice care is typically for someone with an illness and life expectancy measured in months not years. Someone receiving palliate care may live many years.
Doctors, nurses, social workers, home care providers and clergy are all part of this caring team. Not only are they available to the patient in need, but the family is also involved as they too are experiencing the emotional pain and trauma through the connection of their loved one.