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When is It Time for Palliative Care?

When patients need relief from a complex medical condition or from symptoms associated with multiple treatments, palliative care can be helpful.

Individuals who benefit may be going through aggressive care, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or treatment of an illness such as heart or kidney failure or trauma and are not ready for hospice care.

Keystone Medical Services’ board-certified physicians have specialized training to manage symptoms of most advanced illness. It starts with a request from a patient’s physician. Our physician team offers a physician consultation to help determine the best course of treatment.

Can I Receive Other Treatment While Receiving Palliative Care?

You may receive palliative care and other aggressive care at the same time. You may also begin receiving care without waiting until you are in the last stages of life.

How Palliative Care Minimizes the Symptoms of Disease

Palliative care can improve the quality of life for those suffering from a variety of serious conditions. Palliative care helps relieve associated symptoms such as pain, trauma, anxiety, depression, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping.

By helping to minimize these issues, an individual can better tolerate additional treatments, feel more in control of their overall care, and be more at peace.

There are many medical conditions and diseases that can benefit from Palliative Care. Here are just a few:

ALS

  • ALS (or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a progressive disease that affects voluntary muscle action. Patients may become paralyzed in later stages of ALS.
  • How Palliative Care Helps: The partnering of patients and our physicians can manage the symptoms and stress that come with ALS, such as loss of function, discomfort, emotional pain, and anxiety.

Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Alzheimer’s Disease is a version of dementia, causing difficulty with memory, judgment, and reasoning.
  • How Palliative Care Helps: It can alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Palliative care specialists can also help loved ones better understand what triggers the symptoms.

Cancer

  • Cancer comes in many forms (including breast, colon, head and neck, leukemia and lymphoma, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate). Cancer may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous and able to spread to other areas of the body).
  • How Palliative Care Helps: By understanding and treating related symptoms (which may include depression, anxiety, nausea, pain, and others). Our palliative care specialists understand cancer. We work with the patient’s oncologist to alleviate symptoms and help interpret complicated medical information.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

  • COPD involves damage to airways in the lungs, which makes airflow difficult. Patients with COPD may experience shortness of breath, coughing, pain, and other symptoms.
  • How Palliative Care Helps: It can help treat these symptoms and ease the stress it causes for the individual and their family.

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

  • CHF occurs when the heart is unable to sufficiently pump blood, leading to breathing problems, weakness, and swollen feet and ankles.
  • How Palliative Care Helps: Our experts work closely with the patient’s cardiologist and other physicians to provide treatment for CHF symptoms. Our palliative care staff members guide the patient through the day-to-day of living with CHF.

Dementia

  • Dementia a slowly progressing deterioration of the brain, requires a lot of support, both for the individual with dementia and their loved ones.
  • How Palliative Care Helps: By using symptom management. Caregivers of individuals with dementia often experience exhaustion, confusion, and stress caring for their loved one. Our care specialists offer extensive opportunities to communicate and give support while family members make decisions and continue with care.

HIV/AIDS

  • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) causes damage to the immune system, leading to illness and infection. HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), where the virus attacks white blood cells. Those facing HIV/AIDS often experience symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Treatment for these illnesses can also cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • How Palliative Care Helps: Our palliative care team members assist with minimizing these symptoms and any others related to stress or the fear of facing an HIV/AIDS diagnosis. Palliative care helps families understand the illness and make better-educated decisions about care and treatment.

Kidney Disease

  • Chronic kidney disease can lead to high blood pressure, anemia, loss of bone strength, poor nutritional health, and nerve damage. Kidney disease can put an individual at a greater risk of developing heart and blood vessel disease.
  • How Palliative Care Helps: Our experts work with patients, families, nephrologists, and other physicians to manage symptoms and provide additional emotional support.

Stroke

  • A Stroke may occur when the brain tissue does not get enough blood. This can often be caused by a blood clot (ischemic stroke). Smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a family history of stroke are all factors that could contribute to stroke risk. The most common symptoms include paralysis and weakness of one side of the body, difficulty speaking or understanding, loss of memory, headaches, and emotional and behavioral problems.
  • How Palliative Care Helps: Palliative care not only helps manage symptoms but, if started quickly after a first stroke, can help minimize any long-term issues.

Liver Disease

  • Liver Disease (also called cirrhosis) occurs when normal liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue, causing the liver to not work properly. Alcoholism is the most common cause of liver disease.
  • How Palliative Care Helps: Our care can help manage the symptoms of liver disease, which may include jaundice, fatigue, swelling of the legs and abdomen, appetite and weight loss, and nausea. Our palliative care team members also support individuals with liver disease and their families in making challenging care decisions.

Parkinson’s Disease

  • Parkinson’s disease is a gradually developing central nervous system disease that affects muscle and movement.
  • How Palliative Care Helps: While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, palliative care provides relief from symptoms, including motion-related issues, fatigue, and trouble sleeping. We can also help if the illness requires 24-hour care and support in making care-related decisions.
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