For those battling a serious illness, palliative care may be an option. It's a relatively new medical specialty that focuses on improving life and providing comfort to patients. Here's Dr. Morgan Sauer with today's St. Vincent Corner Clinic Report.
Palliative care is a branch of medicine that says we are not able to cure the cause of the symptoms, however we are going to cover the symptoms up to give the best quality of life possible.
How is palliative care different than hospice?
Hospice care is a branch of palliative care that occurs the last six months of life. However palliative care can occur anytime during life, from children to adults to senior citizens and can be done during active treatment for the disease.
Are there methods of treatment that don't involve medication?
One of the simplest examples would be for arthritis. We can't cure the inflammation in the joints, but we can use things like Tylenol or ibuprofen to cover those symptoms up.
Using non-pharmacalogic methods is extremely important in palliative medicine. Using different types of techniques for training the mind to decrease the sensitivity to pain, to treating depression, to using exercise, heat and cold packs, physical therapy, etc. There is a lot of non medication techniques to reducing pain and symptoms.
Who is a candidate for palliative care?
Anybody who is experiencing uncomfortable symptoms or a decrease quality of life from symptoms while undergoing treatment. Something as simple as arthritis, but also for cancer pain or different types of syndromes can receive palliative care to compliment their therapy to give them the best overall quality of life
Typically, a palliative care team consists of a doctor, nurse and social worker, but often it can involve a chaplain, physical therapist and others depending on the patient's needs.