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Physical symptoms and side effects can occur due to cancer and its treatment. Additionally, they might have an emotional, social, and financial impact. Palliative care or supportive care refers to the treatment of these side effects.
Palliative care is a critical component of care provided with treatments aimed at slowing, stopping, or curing cancer. Palliative care has been shown in research to improve the quality of life and help patients feel happier with their treatment. You may begin palliative care shortly after being diagnosed with cancer and continue to receive it throughout treatment and recovery. For example, cancer survivors who continue to experience or develop new symptoms or side effects following treatment may also receive palliative care.
What Is the Difference Between Palliative Care and Hospice Care?
No, palliative care and hospice care are not synonymous. However, hospice care is a subcategory of palliative care. When treatment is not expected to cure cancer, the purpose of hospice care is to keep you as comfortable as possible. Certain types of health insurance, including Medicare, cover hospice treatment if the patient’s anticipated life expectancy is less than six months; however, some patients live longer. If I have a chance to find a hospice for my loved ones, then I’ll look for the best hospice care near me.
When might you receive palliative care or hospice care? The information below outlines when you might receive palliative care or hospice care.
You may receive palliative care if:
- You are undergoing cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy to reverse, halt, or eliminate cancer.
- You have opted to focus on treatments that improve your quality of life rather than cancer therapy.
- You’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer, are now through treatment, or have completed therapy but are still experiencing side effects or symptoms.
- You are likely to live for six months or fewer (some people live longer).
When to Seek Palliative Care and Where to Find It
Your cancer doctor may be the first to discuss palliative care with you. Depending on the type of treatment you require, you may see someone at a hospital, a clinic, or even your home. For instance, you could meet with a social worker or chaplain at the hospital and then attend physical therapy at a clinic.
Palliative Care For Cancer Patients at Home
Cancer and its treatment can have a wide variety of physical and emotional impacts on individuals. Palliative care can address a wide variety of concerns by incorporating an individual’s unique requirements into the care process. For each patient, a palliative care specialist will consider the following factors:
Physically: Pain, weariness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and sleeplessness are all common physical complaints that need to be addressed.
Emotional and Coping Mechanisms: Palliative care specialists can connect patients and families with resources to help them cope with the emotions associated with a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Depression, anxiety, and dread are just a few of the issues that palliative care can address.
Spiritual: Patients and families frequently seek deeper purpose in their lives following a cancer diagnosis. Some people find that the sickness draws them closer to their faith or spiritual views, while others struggle to comprehend why they contracted cancer. A palliative care professional can assist individuals in exploring their beliefs and values to achieve a sense of serenity or acceptance that is appropriate for their condition.
Caregiver Requirements: Family and friends are critical components of cancer care. They, like the patient, have fluctuating needs. Numerous carers frequently grow overwhelmed by the additional obligations put upon them. Many people struggle to care for a sick loved one while juggling other responsibilities such as employment, domestic chores, and family care. Uncertainty about assisting a loved one in medical conditions, a lack of social support, and negative feelings such as anxiety and dread can contribute to caregiver stress.
Practical requirements: Additionally, palliative care specialists can aid with financial and legal difficulties and insurance and employment concerns. Palliative care often includes a discussion of the patient’s care goals. Additionally, these discussions can involve discussing advance directives and assistance in facilitating communication among family members, caregivers, and the cancer care team members.
Your Team of Palliative Care Professionals
Your cancer care team can contact other palliative care providers. These may include the following:
- If the person with cancer is your child, consult a counselor, psychologist, or child life specialist. These individuals can assist with emotional or mental health requirements and domestic issues.
- This individual can assist you with your doubts, anxieties, and concerns about life and disease. They may be able to assist you in locating assistance. No religious affiliation is required to speak with a chaplain or spiritual advisor. Discover more about spiritual aid.
- Additionally, you may seek treatment from a nutritionist, physical therapist, or other professionals to alleviate symptoms.
Financing Palliative Care
Your health insurance may cover palliative care as part of your cancer treatment. For instance, if you require the assistance of a physical therapist to increase your physical activity throughout treatment, this is considered part of your cancer care. But what is palliative care for cancer at home?
Medicare and Medicaid frequently cover palliative treatment. Medicare is the United States government’s health insurance program for seniors. Medicaid is a type of government-sponsored health insurance available to people who earn less than a specific amount.
Consult your physician or palliative care team about the cost of various therapies, whether and how much your insurance will cover, and where to seek assistance. A hospital social worker or financial counselor can assist you in determining how to pay for necessary care. Acquaint yourself with health insurance coverage and strategies for managing the cost of cancer care.
Discussing Palliative Care
A critical component of palliative care is discussing your diagnosis, treatment, and requirements. These discussions assist ensure that everyone understands your goals and expectations for your treatments and overall care. Palliative care is most effective when provided collaboratively by you, your family, and your health care team.
The following are some pointers for communicating with your health care team:
- Inquire about your diagnosis, treatment plan, and prognosis from your doctor. Prediction refers to the likelihood of recovery. These may vary over time, so continue to inquire. You can take notes during your appointments or invite someone to assist you with recalling information.
- Inquire with your health care team about anything you do not understand. It could refer to a medical term, a treatment, or something else.
- Ascertain your social, emotional, functional, and spiritual requirements. To assist you in getting started, here is a list of questions to ask the doctor.
- Inform your healthcare provider if you have any pain, discomfort, or other side effects. Carry out this procedure even if you believe the symptoms are not severe or concerned about cancer’s progression. Informing your doctor of your symptoms enables them to identify the most effective treatment options for those symptoms quickly. There are numerous techniques to alleviate discomfort today.
- Please make a list of any symptoms and side effects you experience, noting when they occur, how frequently they occur, the time of day they appear, and how severe they are. Distribute your notes to your physician or nurse. This tracking enables your health care team to identify and treat the underlying source of the problem.
- Consult your physician about the palliative care options accessible to you. Additionally, you may want to visit a physician specializing in palliative care.