Palliative Care: A Hidden Treasure

Category: Newsletter

You’ve probably heard of Hospice Care. But have you heard of Palliative Care? Is it for you?

Palliative Care is focused on providing relief from the suffering and stress one experiences during the treatment of a serious illness. This includes such illnesses as cancer, heart failure, kidney failure, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and many others. Symptoms from these illnesses and their treatment can include: pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and so many others. Management of these symptoms is key to a Palliative Care program.

The driving concept in Palliative Care is facilitating patient autonomy so that interventions are based on the patient’s needs, not on the patient’s prognosis. Besides the physical needs, interventions can include a focus on spiritual needs, emotional needs, social needs, and existential needs. These interventions are designed to improve the quality of life for both the patient and their family while treatment of the illness continues. Through management of the pain and suffering (suffering has a broad definition), patients can continue participating in areas of their lives that have special meaning as they focus on what matters most to them. 

Sometimes there is an organized Palliative Care team of specially trained doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with the patient’s doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Other times a team has to be organized at the time to meet the needs of the patient.

Some insurers support Palliative Care, but it is not a Medicare reimbursed service. Therefore, despite the desperate need for such care and the quality of life it protects, this much needed care is not readily available.

You should check with your insurance company to see if they cover a Palliative Care program. If they do not, talk with your primary care physician about how Palliative Care could possibly be arranged and how it could help you and your family. 

Glendon Muir Geikie MSW, is an End of Life Doula, and Certified Grief Counselor. In addition to facilitating PRO’s monthly Grief Group, he is a member of PRO’s Wellness Village since June 2020.


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Updated: August 16, 2017