For many patients dealing with serious illnesses, managing the pain and other negative symptoms of their condition is just as important as the treatment of the illness itself. However, traditional treatment options are often limited when it comes to managing pain, focusing more on treating the issue than the negative side effects caused by it.
The purpose of palliative care is to come alongside a patient’s existing treatment plan with a focus on their needs beyond just medical treatment to address issues such as pain management or anxiety. Palliative care is designed to give patients and their families the highest quality of life as they navigate the treatment of serious illnesses. At Wings of Hope we understand that being able to reduce stress and pain goes a long way in ensuring patients make the most of their time in treatment.
While many medical treatments focus on curing or at least treating the illnesses a patient is experiencing, palliative care is designed so that during treatment a patient can be as comfortable as possible. Even if an illness is being successfully treated, a patient and their family may still experience negative effects beyond the scope of the illness. Pain management is one of the primary purposes in providing palliative care, as treating and alleviating pain is the best way to keep patients motivated throughout treatment and to keep their spirits up. If you are dealing with pain every day, it not only takes a toll mentally but also makes progress and adherence to a treatment plan more difficult.
Managing pain with the help of palliative care is also great for family members and caregivers. No one wants to see a loved one in pain, and even when dealing with a serious illness, pain management helps a patient be as comfortable as possible and able to enjoy spending time with friends and family as much as they can.
Working with Palliative Care
If a patient and their loved ones decide palliative care is a good fit, after an initial consultation the palliative team will put together a plan for the patient with their individual needs outlined. Typically, this means determining the location and type of pain the patient is experiencing and coming up with a plan to address it, whether with medication or other treatment options. If medication is the best course of action for the specific needs of a patient, the palliative team will monitor and track how well the medication is tolerated and if improvement in pain levels is made. The team is also equipped to help manage any side effects the patient may experience on the medication so that pain relief does not come at the expense of other problems.
Throughout the course of treatment, palliative care helps make the patient as comfortable as possible, adjusting medication or treatment as needed for the duration of care. Palliative care teams are also uniquely equipped to help manage and treat severe chronic pain, as they are able to provide stronger medications a patient may be unable to obtain without them. Pain is an unfortunately common component in serious illnesses, and if you or a loved one is struggling to find relief, palliative care is a great addition to an existing health plan.
Other Palliative Care Benefits
Healing extends beyond just the physical, and palliative care works to meet the patient’s emotional or spiritual needs as well. Anxiety, depression and sleep issues are all commonly associated with the serious illnesses palliative care works to address, and pain can make these problems even worse. A palliative team will also make sure that if a patient is experiencing nausea, vomiting or problems with proper intake of food and liquids that there are treatments to minimize discomfort and ways to ensure a patient is still receiving the nutrition they need. Many patients also benefit from spiritual guidance or just someone to talk to who understands their situation.
Palliative care can also relieve a lot of the burden for family members and caregivers, helping them understand a patient’s situation and giving them emotional support if they need it. Some programs can also be tailored to allow caregivers support when it comes to everyday tasks, or utilize respite care to free them up to take time away from the patient.
Should You or a Loved One Consider Palliative Care?
Palliative care is not just for end-of-life situations, and can be a very beneficial addition to the treatment plan of someone dealing with a serious illness. Many patients deal with chronic and debilitating pain, which impacts not just their quality of life but their road to recovery as well. Unfortunately, a lot of people have the misconception that pain is just the reality of living with a serious illness, and that their only choice is to just live with it. But with the assistance of palliative care, pain does not have to be something a patient endures until they finish treatment.
The ultimate goal of palliative care is to ensure that you or a loved one has the highest quality of life for as long as possible. Pain can be managed, and by working with a palliative team to address your needs, patients can once again feel comfortable in their own body.
Wings of Hope specializes in hospice and palliative care, and we strive to provide hope and light to families in what is inevitably a dark time. We are available 24/7 to provide the support and information you need when navigating end-of-life decisions. The decision to pursue hospice or palliative care is never an easy one, and we are here so you don’t have to walk through it alone.