It is a fact that many (if not most) people die in facilities such as hospitals or nursing homes. But do you know that this is not what many want for themselves if given a choice?
Instead, a lot of people would want to be able to die at home or at the very least, have a say in the type of end-of-life care for pain and other symptoms they want to receive.
You see, when one has what is known as “a serious illness that cannot be cured” (i.e. a life-timing illness), more often than not their focus will turn to concentrate on things that are most important to them – feeling comfortable and having meaningful relationships, and not just medical treatments.
And that is where palliative care comes in.
What Is Palliative Care?
In short, palliative care is an attempt to look after all the medical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of a person with a life-limiting illness (e.g., cancer, motor neuron disease, heart failure and dementia).
It is specialized medical care made up of a team of different professionals to work with the patient, family and the patient’s other doctors to provide the aforementioned support. This personnel could include specialist doctors and nurses, social workers, nutritionists to chaplains.
Palliative care does not focus on just providing treatment intended to cure the patient’s serious illness. Rather, it also enhances their current care by focusing on their quality of life – both for them and their family. It helps people live their life as fully and as comfortably as possible.
Do not mistake it as giving up or ending all treatments though. Patients in palliative care will still receive medical care for their symptoms – it’s just that palliative care will help patients understand their choices for medical treatment, thereby be able to make decisions on the type of treatments that are important (and those that are not).
Where Can Palliative Care Be Provided?
Although palliative care is generally provided at hospitals and nursing homes, there are outpatient palliative care clinics available too (as well as other specialized clinics). Unbeknownst to many, palliative care at home is actually an option, too.
This is something very welcomed by patients with life-limiting illnesses as they get to be in the comfort of their own home, and be around things and settings that they are familiar with. The organized services available through palliative care will be very helpful to any person having a lot of general discomfort and disability very late in life, and getting to receive them at home greatly increases their quality of life for those last remaining days.
If palliative care is what a patient wants, let their caregivers or family members know of their preferences in advance. Having this made known to health care providers and family ahead will make it less likely for them to die in a hospital receiving unwanted treatments – rather, retain a certain bit of quality of life, and not miss out on what’s truly important.