Managing pain can be like fighting a forest fire. A fire that flairs out of control is harder to manage than staying ahead of the flames. Palliative care doctors have specialized training to anticipate pain, side effects and other problems.
Everyone deals with pain differently. Some want maximum comfort, while others want to balance comfort and awareness. Early care help you stay ahead of:
- Complex pain
- Nausea or loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath or breathing problems
- Constipation or digestive problems
- Fatigue or sleeping problems
- Problems with medications
A study in the August 2010 issue of New England Journal of Medicine, surveyed patients who received palliative care after being diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer. The study found lower rates of depression, fewer unwanted trips to the emergency room and better quality of life among patients using palliative care.
Advance care directives spell out medical treatments you would want, or not want, if you couldn't speak for yourself.
Palliative care plans offer family members information, counseling and practical support. It teaches family caregivers how to provide the best care possible for someone with a serious illness and how to take care of themselves along the way.
Family members often feel alone when caring for a sick family member. The palliative team helps them coordinate complex care with doctors and find the resources they need.
Palliative care doctors
You and a doctor work together on a plan of care. Because your needs may change over time, work closely with your doctor and nurses to get the care you need.
Medical social workers are an advocate for you and your family. They can also help you navigate the sometimes confusing health care system.
Hospice chaplains are an option for emotional and spiritual support for you and your family.