Suffering from an advanced illness can significantly decrease the quality of a person’s life. Many advanced illnesses aren’t able to be cured quickly. Because of this, we often see people dealing with long-term symptoms or illnesses that currently have no cure. Many illnesses are also expected to get worse over time. This can make life incredibly difficult for not only the person dealing with severe illness but for their loved ones who may be caregivers.
The physical and emotional effects of an advanced illness can be incredibly difficult to deal with for everyone involved. To help reduce the negative effects that illness can bring, palliative care, also called advanced illness care or comfort care, is available. This can be used by people with advanced illnesses, as well as their loved ones, to help manage symptoms, pain, and stress caused by illness. At Capital Caring, we can provide this service to those going through advanced illnesses in Maryland.
What is Palliative Care?
The word “palliative” means “relieving pain without addressing the underlying medical condition.” Therefore, palliative care does not aim to treat the condition itself, but rather the symptoms. For example, a palliative doctor might administer controlled amounts of pain-relieving or stress-reducing medications to a patient who would otherwise have to be uncomfortable for extended periods.
The main goal of palliative care is to relieve some of the pain a person’s illness causes and can look different for each person. While people with advanced illnesses may have similar symptoms, what services they need to be at their best varies. The services you get through palliative care aren’t limited to only treating the physical effects of the condition, either. In many cases, the emotional pain caused by illness is just as bad, if not worse. Because of this, many people use palliative care for emotional and spiritual support, in addition to the medical care they need from it.
Who is Eligible for Palliative Care?
Contrary to many people’s beliefs, palliative care is not the same as hospice care. Although it’s common that a person receives advanced illness care while they’re in hospice, it’s open to those who have no intentions of entering end-of-life care, as well. Palliative care may not be the only type of treatment a person is going through, either. You can choose to receive comfort care at the same time you’re pursuing curative treatment. Someone might choose to go on and off of palliative services as needed and may eventually stop altogether if their illness is cured.
People with a wide variety of illnesses can choose to have palliative care. Some illnesses that are common among those using palliative include:
Comfort care can also help relieve symptoms such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, constipation, nausea, and vomiting.
When to Consider Palliative Care
Palliative care should be considered for individuals facing serious illnesses, regardless of their age or stage of disease. It is especially beneficial when curative treatment options are limited, as it provides comprehensive pain and symptom management, emotional support, and guidance in making informed healthcare decisions. By engaging in comfort care early in the disease trajectory, patients can experience improved comfort, reduced stress, and enhanced communication with their medical team.
Contrary to popular belief, receiving palliative care does not mean death is near; it simply provides relief from the harshest symptoms of disease, and receiving comfort care does not necessarily mean there is no hope left. This type of advanced illness care does not speed up or slow down the process of death. It is meant simply to help sick people live with dignity as long as possible as they are treated for their illnesses. Patients can receive palliative services alongside treatment, and the care may stop when and if a person recovers.
Having said that, it often happens that palliative measures lead to hospice care or end-of-life care. If treatments fail to address the patient’s condition, and death seems more likely with each passing day, the patient may be moved into a hospice setting. Palliative care continues during this time if necessary. Depending on how long a person remains in hospice, services might include emotional support for the family members, as well as for the patient where possible.
Expert Palliative Care in Maryland
Having an advanced illness yourself or caring for someone who does can be one of the most stressful and heartbreaking things a person can go through. During times like this, it’s important that you can rely on a team of healthcare professionals who care about your well-being. If pain and stress from illness are taking away from your life, Capital Caring’s team of healthcare professionals is here to help you through it.
Our Maryland locations help provide palliative services to those who need them. To learn more about our palliative care, contact us today.