Palliative Care Can Help Patients With Serious Diseases
Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) February 3, 2015 – As medical technology advances, people with serious illnesses or advancing age are faced with a wide range of challenging decisions.
Should mechanical ventilation be used to keep the patient breathing? Should a feeding tube be used to maintain nutrition? When should life-sustaining treatments be withdrawn? How aggressive should treatment attempts be?
“With more than six million Americans living with chronic illness, and the number set to grow in coming years, palliative care plays an ever increasing role in maintaining the quality of life of people with chronic diseases, particularly older individuals,” said Andrew H. Hook, a Virginia elder law attorney with Hook Law Center, which has offices in Virginia Beach and northern Suffolk.
Palliative care seeks to ease the suffering of patients with serious, chronic illnesses. Palliative care, a growing branch of specialized medicine, includes the input of doctors, social workers, nurses and other specialists to advocate for a patient and support the patient’s family. Palliative care specialists can help patients and families make decisions about aggressive therapies, weighing their impact on the patient’s quality of life against their potential benefits.
Palliative care is separate from hospice care, which is care given at the end of life when a patient has a very low chance of recovery and chooses to stop receiving curative treatments. While hospice care provides comfort during the last weeks or months of life, palliative care can be integrated with attempts to cure the disease and may carry on for a longer period of time.
Palliative care is appropriate for any patient diagnosed with a chronic illness, such as dementia, heart disease or cancer, and care can begin soon after diagnosis. It is especially helpful for older individuals who may face a lengthy illness which will have wide-ranging effects on their quality of life.