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If you have an aging or chronically ill loved one, you may often find yourself wondering if there are ways to help them both relieve their pain and feel more comfortable. Many forms of treatment that focus on curing a person’s condition actually make them feel worse rather than better. Fortunately, there is a medical option known as palliative care that can greatly increase a patient’s overall quality of life.
What Is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is a medical process that focuses on relieving pain and enhancing comfort. It can be useful for people with such diseases as cancer, dementia, heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, or any condition with symptoms or treatments that have left the patient experiencing pain or weakness.
In addition to pain relief, palliative care providers help the patient with basic needs, such as feeding and bathing. They can also provide emotional support. They guide patients through the challenging feelings that come up over the course of a serious illness, and they assist family members who might also be providing care. Specialists in this area can also help patients with difficult decisions about ongoing treatment plans.
Providers offer their care services at the patient’s home, nursing home, or in a hospital if that is more appropriate for the patient.
Is Palliative Care the Same as Hospice?
Hospice care is a particular form of palliative care for people who have a life expectancy of six months or less. For hospice patients, all curative treatments have stopped, but medical care that provides pain relief and comfort continues.
Non-hospice palliative care patients, on the other hand, are expected to survive. In general, curative treatments continue for recipients of palliative care whose life expectancies are more than six months. According to one study, those who receive palliative care might have a longer life expectancy when compared to other people with similar conditions who are receiving curative care alone. In many cases, these patients may even expect to improve or fully recover from their conditions.
Does Medicare Cover Palliative Care?
If a patient’s medical professional has recommended palliative care, it will be covered by both original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. This remains true whether or not palliative care is intended as end-of-life care.
Deciding if Palliative Care Is Right for Your Loved One
Decisions about healthcare when an aging parent is suffering from a chronic illness can be challenging. Ideally, you should have a conversation with them before their pain makes it difficult for them to discuss what their wishes might be in a variety of potential situations.
Contact an Elder Law Attorney
Talking these possibilities through with the assistance of an experienced Northern Virginia elder law attorney can be particularly useful. They will be able to guide you and your loved one through the various legal implications of the options you are considering. They can also help with any Medicare forms you’ll need to complete. All the while, they will remain sensitive to the unique emotional aspects of the decisions you and your loved one are having to make together. Get the help you need today by calling our law firm at 703-492-9955.