The Goal of Palliative Care

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Home health care nurse embraces her patient at home.
Published:  February 6, 2023

Origins of the Term “Palliative”

The term, “palliative,” finds its roots in the Latin term for cloak, or, in modern terms, something like a heavy winter coat that covers the body as a shield from inclement weather. The purpose of palliative care is to “put a cloak/coat on,” or diminish any uncomfortable symptoms so patients can live as comfortably as possible. Palliative care works in conjunction with any medical specialist to ensure that all medications and procedure options work in concert with other plans for care.

Alleviating Suffering

The major goal of palliative care is to alleviate suffering, in all forms, so that patients can live richly and comfortably. It focuses on enhancing the overall quality of life for patients suffering from chronic or life-limiting diseases.

A medical diagnosis of illness usually results in a treatment plan or overview of what kinds of medications and procedures may help to cure the illness in the long term or diminish symptoms of the problem in the short term. For instance, a cancer diagnosis likely results in a treatment plan that includes chemotherapy, or cancer-killing medications that can cause a range of unpleasant side effects, including but not limited to nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and joint pain.

Palliative care is designed to help patients manage the discomfort and suffering that treatment often brings. In this way, palliative care is not always inextricably linked with hospice care, in that palliative care focuses on symptom management—whether that is symptom management for those who are expected to live, or for those who face a terminal diagnosis.

Comfort Care

Ultimately, palliative care is not meant to be curative, instead, it is comfort care that works in conjunction with primary care providers and specialists for the benefit of patients. Comfort care can create an environment of well-being that promotes healing but is not a cure. For those who have not received a terminal diagnosis, palliative care often encourages faster recovery from illness and injury than those who suffer effects without palliative care.

Hospice is a Type of Palliative Care

Palliative care can be accessed by anyone who may suffer from ongoing pain, regardless of long-term recovery prognosis or outcomes. However, hospice care is explicitly designed for patients whose physician(s) have communicated that they likely have six months or less of life remaining. It is an admittedly difficult situation for anyone to realize that they or their loved ones need to consider palliative and hospice care.

Most of the time the public hears about palliative care in close connection with hospice care. Yet, palliative care ultimately stands on its own, should patients need the service to manage the effects of any difficult diagnosis or injury. Palliative care providers will ensure medication and treatment plans provide immediate relief to suffering but also keep an eye on long-term effects, benefits, and overall recovery.

Contact Traditions Health Today

For more information about the benefits of palliative care for patients – please contact us by giving us a call or completing our Request Care form. We are ready to discuss any questions you may have about the usage of hospice and palliative care and if you or a loved one would require these services.

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