WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Palliative care provides comfort and support to a person who has a life-threatening condition or is near the end of life. Palliative care aims to improve quality of life in physical, psychological (mental), social, emotional, and spiritual ways. It may be given along with other treatments and may last until the person's cure or death. Homes, hospitals, and health centers may provide palliative care.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Caring for the person:
- Keep the person company: Always be willing to listen to the person. He may want to talk about his life. Do things together such as watching television and reading books, or just stay with the person.
- Learn more about the person's condition: This can help you better understand what he is going through. Many people want to be included in their treatment and care plan. Do not keep information from the person that you think he should not, or does not want to hear. Work with caregivers and other people to help the person.
- Respect the person's feelings and need for privacy: Work together with people whom the person can trust to help him cope with his feelings. Let the person express fears and concerns about dying, such as leaving family and friends behind. Reassure the person that you will follow and honor his advance directives, such as living wills.
A caregiver may arrange services to assist with the person's social needs. These may include home care, school, or work re-entry, transportation, and counseling. A caregiver may also refer the person to different healthcare providers and services. They can help to make sure that the person's care continues as his condition changes.
Counseling and emotional support are given to the person as part of palliative care. This may help him express his thoughts and needs. A caregiver may also talk to the person's family, friends, and others who take care of him. The person and his family may join support groups or meet others in similar situations. Ask caregivers for more information about support groups.
Advance directives are spoken or written legal and medical care instructions made by the person. The person's instructions will be followed by caregivers if the person becomes unable to decide for himself. Examples of advance directives include living will, organ donation, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) attempts. Without advance directives, someone who has permission will make these decisions for the person. Ask caregivers for more information about advance directives.
Contact the person's primary healthcare provider if:
- The person cannot or does not want to eat, drink, or take his medicines.
- The person cannot make it to his next visit.
- The person has new signs and symptoms since his last visit.
- You or the person have questions or concerns about his condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- The person feels like hurting himself or someone else.
- The person feels pain that is not relieved by taking pain medicines.
- The person feels that he cannot cope with his condition.
- The person has problems sleeping.
- The person has shortness of breath, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.