How to Know it is Time for Palliative Care According to Dr. Alexander Everest
If you are seriously ill, you may be interested in palliative care. Palliative care is concerned with relieving your physical symptoms while making you more comfortable. It can be given in a hospital, nursing home, or at home surrounded by family. Depending on your medical situation, you may choose different ways to receive this care.
Dr. Alexander Everest recommends what you should do if you are interested in receiving palliative care, detailing some of the medical and family needs you should consider.
Palliative care is most often brought into play when a patient has reached the end of the efficacy of curative treatments. This can be a difficult personal realization, but many patients accept their need for palliative care long before their family members are ready for such a change. Family members are often concerned with prolonging a patient’s life as far as possible, but the patient may recognize that the treatments no longer provide any beneficial effect.
Some of the medical factors that may come up when deciding on palliative care are the discomfort caused by curative treatments and the need for additional medical support. As a patient, only you know whether the treatments are becoming unbearable and are worse than the effects of the disease. When you reach this point, you may wish to speak to your family members about palliative care.
Using palliative care measures, you may be able to receive treatment for your uncomfortable symptoms like nausea, pain, restlessness, and others. Palliative care is most often associated with these patient comfort considerations.
When you are ready for palliative care, you may be interested in leaving the hospital or nursing home and going home to be with your family. Depending on your medical conditions, this may be possible for patients with end-stage cancer and other terminal diagnoses. It would be best if you considered your own emotional needs and those of your family when choosing palliative care at home.
You will sometimes need to convince your family members that this is what you want and that you will benefit from this type of care. Many family members prefer that their loved ones “fight” their illness to the very end. However, there is something to be said for accepting the situation and ensuring you are as comfortable as possible rather than enduring painful and stressful treatments.
Effect on Family Members
When you consider palliative care, you should also consider the needs and wishes of your family members. While most families of people receiving palliative care are glad that they accepted it, some families cannot deal with this stress. In this case, you may want to look for an out-of-home hospice care center instead of spending your last days at home.
Accepting the Situation
Patients are more likely to be able to accept the reality of their situation than family members. Working with your doctor, you should present a complete plan for palliative care. Your doctor can work through any issues you may have and help you create a plan that will keep you comfortable. In reality, you should make this plan as early as possible while you are still feeling like yourself. You may be unable to get your wishes across as your illness progresses, and you may need to rely on family members to understand your wishes.
Make a Living Will
To be sure that your wishes are fulfilled, it is necessary to create a living will. A living will lay out your wishes for end-of-life care and can come into effect before your life ends. Another important consideration is appointing a health care power of attorney. When fully briefed on your wishes, your health care power of attorney will be able to authorize palliative care.
Experiencing the Benefits
Many patients who were suffering in the hospital are more content when they receive palliative care. Patients enduring difficult conditions can receive comfort measures rather than constant finger sticks, blood draws, lab tests, and other uncomfortable diagnostics.
You may also have significant benefits in your family relationships when you choose palliative care. With your family around you, you will be able to build closer relationships with family members you may not have been able to see while you were in the hospital.
Choosing Palliative Care
Overall, suppose you are certain that your medical condition is at the end of its possible treatment. In that case, you should speak with your doctors and family members and let them know that you are interested in receiving palliative care. Family members may have trouble accepting that you are ready for palliative care, but physicians and nurses may be able to help convince your loved ones that you are prepared to transition.
Dr. Alexander Everest believes that palliative care can help patients approaching the end stages of their lives. He encourages all interested patients to have a frank talk with their doctors and family members to make sure they know you are making the decision based on medical facts.