What is palliative care and how can it help?

What is palliative care and how can it help?

Palliative care is a type of care provided to patients with serious illness, such as cancer. This care can reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and may make it possible to continue with cancer treatment. The goal is to prevent or treat the symptoms of a disease or any treatment side effects that might occur.

According to the Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, “Suffering near the end of life arises from many sources including loss of sense of self, loss of control, fear of the future, and/or fear of being a burden upon others, as well as refractory physical and non-physical symptoms. Excellent medical care, including state-of-the art palliative care, can address and help alleviate many sources of suffering. On occasion, however, patients seek the assistance of a physician to end their life.

Physician-Assisted Dying (PAD) is defined as a physician providing, at the patient’s request, a prescription for a lethal dose of medication that the patient can self-administer by ingestion, with the explicit intention of ending life. Although PAD has historically not been within the domain of standard medical practice, in recent years it has emerged as both an explicit and covert practice across various legal jurisdictions in the United States. PAD has become a legally sanctioned activity, subject to safeguards, first in Oregon in 1997 and, subsequently, in other states including Washington, Vermont, and California. As of the writing of this document, approximately one-sixth of the U.S. population resides in a jurisdiction where PAD is legally permitted, and its legal status continues to evolve at the state level.

A primary goal of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) is to promote the development, use, and availability of palliative care, including hospice, to relieve patient suffering and to enhance quality of life while upholding respect for patients’ and families’ values and goals. The ending of suffering by ending life has been held as distinct from palliative care, which relieves suffering without intentionally hastening death.”

Learn more about palliative care here…