February 1, 2024

Palliative Care Is the Missing Link in Healthcare

cancer patient

When you receive a serious diagnosis, you may feel like you have an impossible decision to make. Do I seek treatment and deal with the symptoms that will make me miserable, or do I choose to leave this life and my loved ones with dignity through hospice care?

Thankfully, there is another choice – a missing link in healthcare that can improve your quality of life while you seek treatment.

Palliative (pal-lee-uh-tiv) care is a unique type of support that focuses on quality of life and aims to ease the symptoms, discomforts and stresses associated with serious or chronic illness while you seek a cure.

You can receive palliative care if you have Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, Heart Disease, Renal or Liver Failure, Cancer, Stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, Kidney Disease, Lung Disease or COPD, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis or many other life-limiting conditions.

Palliative care is an underutilized service. It sounds complicated because ‘palliative’ is not a word commonly used in everyday speech. To palliate means to make a disease or its symptoms less severe or unpleasant without removing the cause.

Oftentimes diseases cannot be solved overnight, so palliative care can be the link between curative treatment and enjoying each day in your own home.

Palliative Care Can Begin When You Begin Treatment

Palliative Care can be initiated when you are diagnosed with a serious and chronic illness and begin to experience pain or symptoms related to your disease.

Treatment may lengthen your life but can often worsen or even cause undesirable symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and pain. Palliative care focuses on increasing your quality of life by relieving those symptoms while you continue to seek treatment.

Palliative Care is Not the Same as Hospice

You do not need to be in hospice to qualify for palliative care. Hospice care focuses on a person’s final months of life, but palliative care is available at any time during a serious illness regardless of prognosis. Some people receive palliative care for many years.

Palliative Care Is Done at Home

In-home and community-based palliative care involves an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) and social worker who meet with you and your family in your home where you are most comfortable.

Meeting in your home not only alleviates the burden of having to travel for an appointment but allows the practitioner to treat you holistically in a way that is realistic for you and your situation.

If needed, they can meet with you in a hospital, an assisted living facility, a long-term care facility, oncology clinics or outpatient offices.

Palliative Care Is a Partnership

Your doctors remain fully involved while you receive palliative care. Together with your healthcare providers, palliative care providers work with you to develop a care plan that is right for you and your family.

Your palliative care team includes a medical director, ARNPs, social workers and volunteers, and, if needed, bath aides and spiritual counselors.

Palliative Care Supports the Entire Family

When you are seriously ill, each person in your family is affected differently. Palliative care is an important source of support for families, often easing the stress on caregivers.

Your palliative care team can:

  • Help you and your family understand your diagnosis and communicate with health providers.
  • Ease your pain and other symptoms.
  • Help with your transition from hospital to home.
  • Access medical supplies and equipment and provide training to your caregivers.
  • Reduce your emergency room visits.
  • Provide emotional support and reduce your stress.
  • Coordinate services for you, such as pet therapy.
  • Address your concerns, such as housing and safety.
  • Coordinate your care appointments.
  • Explain complicated terms and care options to you and your caregivers.
  • Locate community resources.

Palliative Care Through Heartlinks Is Available to Everyone at No Cost

Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, veteran’s benefits and donations cover the cost of palliative care. No patient is ever billed by Heartlinks for the care they receive.

Heartlinks has a large community of generous donors, making palliative care available for patients and their families, regardless of financial ability.

You Can Initiate Your Own Palliative Care

You don’t have to suffer through treatments. You have the choice to choose a better quality of life.

Anyone–including yourself, your doctor, your friend or your family member–can make a referral for you to receive palliative care from Heartlinks.

If you care for someone who could benefit from palliative care, talk to them about it today, because life is for living.

For questions about Heartlinks’ palliative care program, or to make a referral, call 509-837-1676 or fill out the form here.

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