Palliative Care - PIH Health

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Palliative Care

Palliative care focuses on improving your overall quality of life—body, mind and spirit—while you have a serious illness or chronic health condition. Palliative care helps reduce pain or side effects. Sometimes, it’s used in conjunction with treatments intended to cure. The kind of care you get depends on what you need and what your goals are.

Benefits of Palliative Care

Living with a serious illness or chronic condition can be challenging. Palliative care can help you and your loved ones learn to cope with disturbing symptoms or feelings of anger, loneliness, fear or sadness and:

  • Better understand your illness
  • Talk more openly about your feelings
  • Decide what treatment you do or do not want
  • Improve communication among your doctors and nurses
  • Improve physical symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, constipation, pain or shortness of breath

What to Expect

Palliative care providers are interested in what’s bothering you and what’s important to you. They understand that your illness touches both you and those you love. They want to know how your illness affects your emotions and your physical well-being. They want to know how you and your loved ones are doing day to day and they can treat your physical symptoms as needed.

Palliative care providers work with your primary care doctor and your specialists to make sure your medical care matches your goals for your body, mind and spirit. You can also ask them to help you make future plans around your health and medical care. You may work with palliative care providers in your doctor’s office, your home, a hospital, a nursing home or hospice.

Focus on Communication

Good communication is a large part of palliative care. Listen to your feelings and talk about what’s most important to you. You may talk about anything and everything during a palliative care visit, including:

  • Treatment
  • Pain and medicine side effects
  • Emotional and social challenges, such as helping your family get along better
  • Spiritual concerns
  • Goals and dreams
  • Hospice care
  • Advance directives, the instructions to your doctor and loved ones about what kind of care you want if you’re unable to speak for yourself

How Palliative Care Differs from Hospice Care

Palliative care is for a person of any age who has a serious illness or chronic condition. For example, you may want palliative care while you get treatment for heart failure. Palliative care might help you manage symptoms or side effects so you feel better, which helps you recover faster. Palliative care may be part of the services you receive through PIH Health’s Home Healthcare program.

Hospice care provides medical services, emotional support and spiritual resources for people who are in the last stages of a serious illness, such as cancer, kidney or liver failure, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injuries or heart conditions, among others.

Your Next Steps

Health professionals and hospitals now use palliative care more and more. Patients and families like this kind of care because it treats illness and provides comfort at the same time. If you or your loved ones feel palliative care may be a good choice for your situation, write down your questions and talk about them with your doctor during your next visit. Then, let us know how we can help you meet your goals.

Contact Us

For more information about palliative care at PIH Health, call our Family Medicine Residency Program at 562.698.0811 Ext. 18509.

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