How can I talk to my doctor about my health?

Ongoing conversations about your disease progression and personal goals of care will help you and your physician get on the same page about treatment options. Only through open, honest and timely discussions can you make informed decisions about which types of treatment will or won’t be beneficial, and whether or not you wish to pursue them.

If your goals of care are to be as aggressive as possible in fighting your disease, the course of treatment you pursue will be very different from the person who is choosing comfort care. And, while you may want to do everything possible to cure your disease in its early stages, you could eventually grow weary of treatment—or determine it is no longer working—and opt for non-curative care that will enhance your quality of life.     

Don’t be afraid to speak up when meeting with your doctor. If the two of you become accustomed to having open conversations about your prognosis and your wishes, it will be much easier to address difficult subjects as your disease progresses. Understand your options and the benefits of specialized end-of-life care.

Understand the importance of having earlier conversations about your options for treatment.

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How do I deal with a chronic neurological condition?

Your chronic neurologic condition has affected every area of your life, and now—in spite of receiving optimal therapies—it is getting worse. For patients with stroke, Parkinson’s disease, MS, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, signs of decline may be:

  • Unable to eat or drink
  • Loss of ability to communicate
  • No longer responding to medication
  • Functional status changes, such as blindness or paralysis
  • Depression, anxiety, hallucinations
  • Frequent hospitalizations or trips to the ER
  • Recurring infections, such as UTI or pneumonia
  • Weight loss
  • Assistance required with most activities of daily living

Help is available to complement your existing treatment, manage symptoms and/or to help you have the best end-of-life experience possible. Assistance may include:

  • Pain management
  • Education for families on ways to prevent delirium and agitation
  • Education on how to detect pneumonia, urinary tract or wound infections
  • Identification and treatment of depression, anxiety or hallucinations
  • Remedies for loss of appetite
  • Medicinal and non-medicinal ways to control nausea, vomiting or shortness of breath
  • Prevention of constipation

It may be time to speak to your doctor about realistic treatment options and expected outcomes. Expert care is available for serious or late-stage illness that will improve your quality of life.

Understand how palliative care or hospice can help when facing end-stage neurological disorders.

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What if I'm living with long-term heart or lung disease?

The anxiety of living with long-term heart or lung disease can be overwhelming. Each day you struggle with symptoms, such as breathing discomfort, swelling, lack of energy or coughing. And other organs or body systems may be affected as well.

You can improve your quality of life by addressing:

  • Pain and symptoms
  • Management of multiple medical conditions
  • Spiritual or emotional concerns
  • Plans for the future

Whether you have chosen to complement your existing treatment plan or are in need of end-of-life care, you can get assistance from local experts who will help:

  • Minimize breathing discomfort
  • Reduce pain
  • Decrease swelling
  • Manage several chronic conditions at once
  • Manage medications
  • Manage depression or anxiety
  • Learn relaxation techniques
  • Navigate complex medical decisions
  • Initiate advance care plans
  • Support caregivers

Specialized care is available in your home. Take the first step toward improving quality of life for you and your family caregivers today.

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What other kinds of care are available if I have cancer?

There are many challenges when you are suffering from the debilitating symptoms of cancer. Thankfully, there also are a variety of interventions—provided by palliative care experts—that can help address the discomfort caused by your disease or the side effects of treatment.

Whether you wish to enhance your current care, control the side effects of treatment or have decided to pursue comfort care only, you can improve your quality of life. Expert help is available for:

  • Pain and other symptoms
  • Side effects of treatment
  • Fatigue, anxiety or depression
  • Spiritual or emotional concerns
  • Medication management
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Discussing goals of care
  • Navigating complex medical decisions
  • Initiating advance care plans
  • Supporting caregivers

Specialized care is provided in your home. Take the first step toward improving quality of life for you and your family members today.

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Is there help for living with liver or renal disease?

The steady decline of your liver or renal disease is starting to take a toll on you and your family. You have questions and concerns about the future and what treatment options are right for you.

Help is available if you are struggling with the following:

  • Pain or other symptoms
  • Jaundice
  • Fluid retention
  • Issues related to dialysis
  • Side effects of treatment
  • Other health conditions that complicate your care
  • Fatigue, anxiety or depression
  • Spiritual or emotional concerns
  • Care coordination
  • Plans for the future

Local experts can enable you to focus on quality of life. Additional care is available whether you are continuing to pursue aggressive treatment or have decided to forgo it.

They will help you:

  • Reduce pain or other symptoms
  • Address the side effects of treatment
  • Manage multiple chronic health conditions
  • Review and manage medications
  • Learn relaxation techniques
  • Navigate complex medical decisions
  • Initiate advance care plans
  • Receive support for caregivers

Understand how palliative care or hospice can help when facing end-stage liver or renal disease.

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Is there help for me if I have multiple diagnoses?

When you are coping with several illnesses at the same time, life can feel like it is consumed by doctor visits, tests and medication. It is challenging to keep it all straight and to manage the special needs of each medical condition. And, as your health declines, uncertainty about the future adds an extra layer of concern.

It is not unusual for individuals to suffer from multiple illnesses, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Advanced heart or lung disease
  • End-stage liver or renal disease
  • Late-stage neurological disorders, such as MS, Parkinson’s disease or stroke
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease

These may be further complicated by:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Lack of mobility
  • Debility due to old age

If you are experiencing multiple health issues, in-home assistance is available that will help you improve your quality of life. Get help with:

  • Pain and symptoms
  • Side effects of treatment
  • Coordinated care for multiple illnesses
  • Medication review
  • Fatigue, anxiety or depression
  • Spiritual or emotional concerns
  • Goals of care discussions
  • Plans for the future
  • Complex medical decisions
  • Education and support for caregivers

Understand how palliative care or hospice can help when facing multiple serious diagnoses.

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If I'm already in a nursing home, can I get additional support?

Choosing to add an additional layer of care and support for someone already living in a nursing home will ultimately help enhance their quality of life. Providers of palliative care and hospice often partner with nursing homes to provide additional expertise, especially as it pertains to pain and symptom management. Because of this extra attention, re-hospitalizations or disruptive trips to the ER can usually be prevented.

Palliative care services are covered by Medicare, like any other medical specialty, or–if the patient requires hospice care at the end of life–by the Medicare Hospice benefit.

Many people are surprised to learn what additional services can be provided by a hospice for nursing home residents who are terminally ill. They include:

  • Medical and nursing care
  • Pain and symptom management
  • Aide services
  • Drugs and medical supplies related to the terminal illness
  • Extended nurse visits for symptom management
  • Family education
  • Emotional and spiritual support for the patient and family
  • Art or music enrichment
  • Massage
  • Companionship from a volunteer
  • Assistance at the time of death
  • Bereavement support

You CAN receive an extra layer of care and support for a loved one living in a nursing home.

Understand how palliative care or hospice can help even if you live in a nursing home.

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