When a person is living with a serious, complex illness or illnesses, physical and mental stress from symptoms and pain can be a heavy burden. While their doctor provides treatment in hopes of a cure or recovery, there is another type of care called palliative care that is designed to help support improvement in quality of life and comfort for people facing these conditions. 

Blog-Palliative Care

Palliative care is a resource for people living with a serious illness, but according to a new study that surveyed 228 people living in a nursing home, nearly 70% were eligible for palliative care services, but none were receiving it.

The study reveals interesting facts that can help make care decisions for yourself or a loved one who may be facing a serious illness. Of the people included in the study,

  • The median age was around 80
  • 47% were living with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
  • Almost half had experienced a trip to the hospital in the past year
  • 98% had completed an order for life-sustaining treatment, which are medical orders that summarize a patient’s wishes for their care, although interviews with the patient or family revealed few actually recalled completing the form
  • 63% believed their physical symptoms were quite a bit or completely important to their overall quality of life

The researchers say that identifying when a person could benefit from palliative care services is highly important. When a person begins receiving services to control pain and symptoms and make future healthcare plans earlier, they can regain control of their diagnosis, which is one step toward greater independence and recovery.

While this study is centered on nursing home residents, this valuable care can be offered in many settings, from long-term acute care hospitals to home. People can benefit from palliative care if they have:

  • A chronic, progressive pulmonary disorder, renal disease, congestive heart failure or a progressive neurological condition
  • Cancer requiring intense treatment
  • A history of hospitalizations
  • A recurring infection or non-healing wound
  • Psychosocial, emotional and/or spiritual distress
  • Pain or sever discomfort
  • Sudden and significant weight loss
  • Repeated falls
  • Uncertainty about treatment options or goals of care

Many confuse palliative care with hospice care. They are not the same. While both hospice care and palliative care help provide comfort, palliative care still includes curative treatment within a person’s care plan so they can live as actively as possible when facing a chronic or progressive disease.

Do you think your or a loved one could benefit from palliative care? Call 1.866.KINDRED to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week to learn more.

By Craig Layne