What is palliative care?

Palliative care can be provided at any time during a serious illness, whether you are expecting a full recovery or continue to decline. It includes pain and symptom relief, supportive care, and helpful conversations about your disease progression, treatment options and personal goals of care. It is especially beneficial for people who have debilitating side effects from their treatment, or for those who have multiple health conditions that are challenging to manage. 

You or a family member may be symptomatic with a serious illness, such as cancer, heart failure, COPD or emphysema, progressive neurological disorders, dementia, debility, etc. You may be experiencing:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Bone, muscle, nerve, tissue or tumor pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Other debilitating symptoms

And, in addition, your quality of life is affected by these issues:

  • The side effects of your treatment are debilitating and difficult to manage.
  • You often go to the ER or are hospitalized due to uncontrolled pain or other symptoms.
  • You have several illnesses that, combined, make your care needs more complex.
  • Your condition has worsened and you are confused or worried about the progression of your disease and treatment options.
  • You have been released from the hospital or a rehab facility and are having difficulty maintaining your comfort at home.
  • You have emotional or spiritual concerns that are affecting your wellbeing.
  • Your caregivers are struggling to understand and manage your illness.
  • It is physically difficult for you to visit your physician’s office.

Palliative care is generally provided on a consultative basis. After visiting you, an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) will evaluate your condition and, in consultation with a palliative care physician, will contact and make recommendations to your own physician. He or she will then continue to manage your care. The palliative care team may visit you several more times, or simply stay in touch by phone, until your symptoms are better controlled.

Medicare, Medicaid and other insurers cover the costs of palliative care.

Learn more about how palliative care works with your doctors and supports you as you cope with serious illness.

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When is it time for palliative care?

Living with advanced, serious illness is difficult and overwhelming. You may be feeling fear or anxiety if you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with an illness, such as cancer, heart failure, COPD or emphysema, progressive neurological disorders, dementia, debility, etc.

Palliative care is effective when received concurrently with treatment, especially if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Bone, muscle, nerve, tissue or tumor pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Other debilitating symptoms

Learn more about how palliative care works with your doctors and supports you as you receive treatment for serious illness.

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Can I choose my own palliative care provider?

There are many providers involved in your care and managing it all can be confusing and overwhelming. Your physician, hospital or nursing home may recommend palliative care as a beneficial addition to your care. Or, you may wish to bring it up as a possible option.

There are several different palliative care providers in this area, and each uses a different service model. Please note that the palliative care provider you choose does not have to be affiliated with your physician or hospital system. You can specifically request the organization that you prefer.

Things to consider:

  • Are the medical professionals specially trained in palliative care?
  • Do they have an interdisciplinary team that will take a holistic look at your needs?
  • What is their experience in pain and symptom management?
  • Will they visit you in your home?
  • How much time will they spend with you?
  • Do they have a nurse navigator who can also counsel you via phone?
  • What are their fees?
  • Do they accept Medicare, Medicaid or other insurance?
  • Will they provide care if you cannot afford to pay?

The choice is yours. Palliative care is an effective option to help manage pain and other symptoms of your illness or the side effects of treatment.

Choose where to go to get the help you need now.

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What is the first step to get palliative care?

Help is within your reach! The first step toward managing the pain and symptoms of your illness, or the side effects of treatment, is just a phone call away.

If you have a serious illness, such as cancer, heart failure, COPD or emphysema, progressive neurological disorders or dementia, and are experiencing:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Bone, muscle, nerve, tissue or tumor pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Other debilitating symptoms

We can help!

While you ultimately will need a referral from your physician to begin receiving palliative care, you can initiate a consultation on your own.

Take the first step to improving your quality of life.

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Where is palliative care provided?

You may find that it is difficult to leave your home to visit multiple physicians while trying to manage your serious illness. At times, the symptoms of your disease or the side effects of treatment make it impossible to get out of the house, or the thought of visiting “one more doctor” is unbearable.

While palliative care services are sometimes provided in a clinic or hospital setting, a palliative care consultation also can take place right in your own home. The team of expert staff provides an extra set of “eyes and ears” in your own environment to observe, listen and then thoroughly discuss your concerns with you, your family and your physician.

The Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) who visits you will assess your needs and make recommendations to your physician. The palliative care team will assist with communication between your primary care physician and any specialists you may see.  

In addition, you will be assisted by experienced and caring office staff who are just a phone call away whenever you need information, support or coordination of special needs.

You will find that the support and practical advice you receive from the palliative care team are as valuable as their symptom management expertise. Speak to your physician about the benefits of receiving palliative care today.

Learn more about how palliative care works with your doctors and supports you as you continue treatment for serious illness.

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