If you have a serious illness, should you get palliative care?


Yes. Palliative care provides an additional level of support while still providing curative treatment. Hospice care, on the other hand, also provides support but focuses on pain management and a good quality end-of-life care. Coming from NYU, I’m aware of the NICHE program (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders). One thing it does is provide caregiver resources especially useful while you or your loved one is at the hospital. Here is their guide for helping you determine if you need palliative care.

1. Do you have one or more serious illnesses?

Such as: • Cancer • Congestive heart failure (CHF) • Kidney failure • Liver failure • Neurological diseases (e.g., ALS, Parkinson’s) • Dementia • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, lung disease

Yes___ No___

2. Do you have symptoms that make it difficult to be as active as you would like to be, or impact your quality of life?

These symptoms might include: • Pain or discomfort • Shortness of breath • Fatigue • Anxiety • Depression • Lack of appetite • Nausea • Constipation

Yes___ No___

3. Have you, or someone close to you, experienced the following:

• Difficult side effects from treatment • Eating problems due to a serious illness • Frequent emergency room visits • Three or more admissions to the hospital within 12 months, and with the same symptoms

Yes___ No___

4. Do you, or someone close to you, need help with:

• Knowing what to expect • Knowing what programs and resources are available • Making medical decisions about treatment choices/options • Matching your goals and values to your medical care • Understanding the pros and cons (benefits/burdens) of treatments (e.g., dialysis, additional cancer treatments, surgery, etc.)

Yes___ No___

5. Do you, or someone close to you, need help with:

• Coping with the stress of a serious illness • Emotional support • Spiritual or religious support • Talking with your family about your illness and what is important to you

Yes___ No___

If you answered yes to more than one of the questions, palliative care is something you or your loved one may need. If you feel you may benefit from palliative care, please talk to your healthcare provider today.

Update from April 24, 2014
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