Today, as medical advances help us to live longer with serious diseases, sometimes the matter of living better gets overlooked.
Not at Emerson Hospital.
Helping patients maintain their quality of life while managing a serious disease is what palliative care is all about. Palliative care focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness, as well as the side-effects of treatment—with the aim of improving quality of life for both the patient and the family.
What palliative care involves
Palliative care brings together all the resources someone with a serious illness may need to manage the physical, emotional and spiritual impact of living with a chronic or potentially life-limiting disease. It can include:
- Medical guidance to clarify treatment choices, and explain what they entail and what to expect
- Medical care to relieve symptoms of both the disease and treatment, such as pain, shortness of breath, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, nausea or weakness
- Psychological counseling to help resolve issues such as depression, fear or withdrawal
- Spiritual or pastoral counseling to address existential concerns, explore beliefs and faith, and what gives meaning to their life
A team of caregivers
Palliative care brings together a team of caregivers to provide what the patient needs. This team includes physicians who are palliative care specialists as well as nurses, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists and pastoral care.
We also work with the patient’s primary care physician and any specialists involved in the patient’s care. Then we develop a plan that’s individualized for each patient and family, focused on their personal goals and preferences.
The types of conditions palliative care specialists treat
Palliative care specialists treat people suffering from many serious diseases and chronic illnesses, including cancer, cardiac disease such as congestive heart failure CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and many more.
The difference between palliative care and hospice
One of the biggest misconceptions about palliative care is that it’s simply another name for hospice care. It’s not.
In hospice care, patients forego all curative treatment, and the focus is on keeping the patient comfortable—not treating the illness. Plus, hospice care generally is provided—and covered by insurance—for 6 months or less.
With palliative care, patients continue to undergo all curative treatment that is available, for as long as it’s appropriate. In addition, palliative care has no time limit; patients may receive palliative care services for as long as they require them, and it’s covered by most insurance plans for the duration.
Learn more about palliative care at Emerson Hospital
To learn more about palliative care at Emerson, call the Care Management Department at 978-287-3170
and the office manager can connect you with an Emerson Hospital social worker.