Palliative Care is extra care that someone may need who has a very serious illness like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, advanced dementia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke and HIV/AIDS. Palliative Care allows a patient to continue with a curative treatment for a disease as long as possible no matter what the prognosis is. For instance a person with Parkinson’s disease will receive palliative care alongside neurological care. A person with cancer will receive palliative care alongside of chemotherapy or other treatments. Palliative care is available for anyone at any age.
The goal of palliative care is to make for a better quality of life by providing treatment for symptoms like shortness of breath, pain, sleep disturbances and fatigue, as well as relief from stress, anxiety and depression. The Palliative Care consultation team is made up of various medical specialists, doctors, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians and chaplains who work together with the patient’s other doctors. Palliative care can also help patients understand what medical options for treatment are available for them.
The Palliative Care team provides medical, practical and emotional support to patients, their families and their other doctors. Palliative Care can be provided in skilled nursing and rehab facilities, at home or in hospitals.
Medicare, Medicaid, private long term care insurance companies and the Department of Veteran Affairs may pay for palliative care.
If at some point, the doctors feel that further treatment is not going to help and that the patient will die within six months, then palliative care can be switched to hospice care or the palliative team can continue with their treatment, but will put more weight on comfort care. Unlike palliative care, which also allows for curative treatment, hospice care, which can be at home, in a skilled nursing care facility, in a hospital or at a hospice center does not perform alongside any kind of curative treatment. However, if a person decides to leave hospice care and return to palliative care this is usually possible. Also, if someone in hospice care does not die within the six month period, they can remain in hospice care.
The decision where to have palliative care depends first of all on the choices by the patient and their families. In cases of advanced dementia, if the person made a living will while they were in the early stages, then their desires may be carried out. However, once someone is in a state of very advanced dementia they no longer have the ability to make these decisions. For many families taking care of someone with advanced dementia at home is too stressful and so they will seek a skilled nursing care facility that offers palliative care.
The Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center in Brooklyn, NY, a 5-star facility is known for its outstanding palliative care for those who need more long-term care for serious diseases. The Ditmas Park palliative care team specializes in integrative therapies, pain management and also address the spiritual and religious needs of the patients under their care in order to make for the best possible quality of life.
NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn (formerly named NYU Lutheran Medical Center)
Palliative care can begin as soon as a diagnosis for a serious disease is made. In fact it sometimes begins after a patient gets out of surgery.
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