When you hear the words, “palliative care” what do you think of?
Perhaps you think of end of life care or of treatments meant to provide comfort rather than healing. Or maybe you consider palliative care a synonym for hospice care. Whether you have experience with palliative care or not, you likely have preconceived notions about it, but are those ideas accurate?
What do you think your doctor would like to tell you about palliative care?
The article below addresses some common misconceptions you might have about palliative care. These are some of the issues doctors would like their patients and patients’ family members to think about as they approach their palliative care journey.
Most People Wait Too Long for Palliative Care
How long do you think most patients spend in palliative care?
The average length of palliative care for most patients in the U.S. is around 2 months. But in fact, some studies have shown patients respond well to palliative care if it’s integrated into their treatment plan at an earlier stage. This is likely because the focus of palliative care is to help you manage the symptoms of your diagnosis so that you can live comfortably, as well as provide emotional support for you and your family members.
Your doctor may be hesitant to suggest palliative care because to many patients, palliative care means admitting defeat. This couldn’t be more untrue! Managing the symptoms and stress caused by your illness can help your body and mind recover the energy necessary to fight for your health. Many patients wait too long to engage palliative care specialists, therefore missing out on these kinds of benefits.
Palliative Care Shouldn’t Cast a Pall over Your Life
Palliative care is meant to lighten the burden of illness, not enhance it. The goal is to help you keep living your life and enjoying every aspect of it. Your doctor may want to say the following things to you and your family.
Caregivers, please remember to take a break once in a while. While caring for an ill friend or family member, it’s easy to forget your own emotional and physical needs, but palliative care professionals can help you recognize when you need to step away to take care of yourself.
Do you or your loved one have a hobby or activity you enjoy? Remember, one of the purposes of palliative care is to give you the resources you need to keep living your life as you desire. You don’t have to stop doing the things you love, especially if they bring you closer to your friends and family.
A key way to inject some normalcy into your life is with humor. Serious illness is usually accompanied by intense emotions which can cause friends and family members to become distant. Humor can reinforce connections between you and your loved ones as you cope with your illness.
Palliative care is meant to make your life a bit easier as you cope with serious illness. Your doctor wants you to know you can continue engage in your hobbies and express your sense of humor as you receive treatments.
Palliative Care Isn’t Just for the Terminally Ill
Palliative care is often used interchangeably with hospice care, but these are different treatments. While hospice care is meant primarily for end of life care, palliative treatment can be for any patient with a serious illness.
Why might you choose to enlist the help of palliative care professionals if you are not terminally ill?
Some reasons might include:
- Pain Management: Helping patients feel less pain is crucial for non-terminal patients. This allows them to rest properly so their bodies are ready to keep going.
- Caregiver Stress Management: A serious illness, even a non-life threatening one, can be difficult for the caregiver as well as the patient. Palliative care provides resources for caregivers, too.
- Counseling: Patients may find themselves thinking about heavy topics. Palliative care includes counseling for the patient as well as their family.
If one or more of the above reasons are applicable to you, please don’t be hesitant to ask your doctor for more information.
Let Kindful Hospice Help You Make the Most of Palliative Care
If you would like to learn more about how to make the most of your or your loved one’s palliative care experience, please let us know. Kindful Hospice has resources that can help you broaden your expectations for good palliative and end of life care.
Our doctors, counselors, and volunteers are ready to help you manage the physical and emotional challenges you and your family face. Whether you’re wanting to explore pain management strategies so you can make the most of each day or needing a helping hand to tackle daily tasks, we have resources for you.