As a caregiver, you face numerous challenges in deciding on the best and most appropriate care for your loved one. It is human nature to work towards recovery and rehabilitation after an injury or coping with a chronic medical disease.
One of the hardest decisions to make is when you, as a caregiver, and your loved one choose to accept comfort care over aggressive treatment. The term palliative care is probably familiar to you. Palliative care can greatly benefit you as a caregiver and the person you are caring for, but how do you know it is time for Palliative care? Transitioning to comfort care is a very personal decision, and we can help you through the process.
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses, such as cancer, dementia, COPD, and kidney or heart failure. Palliative care is a philosophy of care that affirms life but accepts death as a normal process. Your doctor may refer you to a Palliative care team. Palliative care:
Palliative care’s approach is to provide care where the patient is. That could be at home, in the hospital, or an outpatient clinic. The care itself is not unlike standard medical care except that the focus is on symptom management and patient-centered directives. All palliative care services are provided by an interdisciplinary team directed by a palliative care physician.
Both Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans pay for palliative care.
Both Medicaid and private insurance pay for palliative care. Medicaid eligibility requirements vary by state, so you will want to check your Medicaid plan to see what is covered. The same holds for private insurance. Plans differ widely, so to ensure that you are covered call your plan to inquire about coverage details.
Families are often dismayed to learn that palliative care is not comprehensive. If your loved one requires assistance with activities of daily such as bathing, dressing, eating, or transfers, palliative care does not provide this. In these cases, family caregivers or paid caregivers have to do this work. 24-hour nursing is also not available unless you are in skilled rehab or the hospital.
Let’s look at what to look for and discuss with your loved one when deciding on palliative care. Palliative care is flexible, so you can change your mind at any time and opt for aggressive traditional medical treatment or transition entirely to hospice.
Palliative care acknowledges and supports a person’s decision to focus on the quality of life while coping with a terminal condition. You can help as a caregiver by following these steps:
Acceptance of the end of life is a uniquely emotional and spiritual journey. Knowing what to focus on and how to honor your loved one’s wishes will make the experience one that you both can respect.
Amanda Lambert is a nationally certified Care Manager and a member of The Aging Life Care Association. She has 25+ years oof experience working with elders