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What does Palliative Care mean?

December 16, 2021

You may be wondering, what does palliative care really mean and what exactly is it? Here are the top three things we want you to know about palliative care.

1. It’s Not Hospice Care 

Don’t think seeking palliative care means you’re fast-forwarding to the end of life. Most people assume that hospice and palliative care are the same, but this isn’t true. Palliative care is different from hospice care, which is care for those with life-limiting illnesses. It may be given at a hospital, a long-term care facility, or often in the home. You don’t have to give up your existing healthcare provider to have palliative care.

“You do not have to wait until you feel like you or a loved one is reaching the end of life to receive palliative care,” said our chief of palliative support and care, Dr. Paul DeSandre. “We’re here to help increase your quality of life, comfort, and happiness as much as we can.”

This kind of care is for a variety of illnesses, like cancer, kidney failure, and heart failure. Our team of specialists increases your comfort by focusing on improving the symptoms of your disease, such as pain, shortness of breath, and trouble sleeping. Healthcare providers, nurses, and spiritual professionals all work together to help relieve your specific symptoms in a way that works best for you.

2. Can Help You Improve Symptom Management

The benefits of palliative care are the heightened focus on improving your quality of life and discovering alternatives for symptom management. If treatments aren’t working, or there’s something specific in your health journey that you feel needs a greater focus, we’re here for you.

One of the most common palliative care treatments is pain management, with pain-relieving medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen or stronger medicines such as morphine. Non-medicine therapies, sometimes called complementary therapies, may also be part of the pain management plan. These may include massage therapy, relaxation methods, music therapy, acupuncture, and aromatherapy.

And, because people with serious illnesses often experience extreme tiredness, palliative care specialists can find ways to help restore energy and enable you to do day-to-day tasks.

3. Provides Guidance for Difficult Decisions  

Are you worried about finances or what your life will look like after a diagnosis? We understand that it can be hard to know which way to turn, but our team can guide you through it all. We’ll connect you with our experts across multiple departments, so no stone will go uncovered. And, you will never have to worry about figuring it out on your own.

“We want to know what is of greatest value to you as the patient,” said associate medical director of Grady’s palliative care service, Dr. Ashima Lal. “That helps us ensure we bring as much meaning to your life as possible.”

Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover palliative care services. If you’re concerned about the cost of palliative care, a social worker from the palliative care team can help to address any questions you have.

If you’re interested in palliative care for your illness, speak with your healthcare provider who is treating you. Be sure to explain what is most important to improving your quality of life.

We want you to remember that seeking palliative care for yourself or your loved one does not mean you’re giving up. It means you’re putting your best foot forward to guarantee you get the care, love, and support you deserve.

Get the Care You Need

Ready to take the next step for a healthier life? Grady can help.  If you need a primary care physician, give us a call at (404) 616-1000. We’ll arrange an appointment at a Primary Care Center near you. Doctors there can treat most conditions and provide access to Grady’s unparalleled medical specialty expertise.


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