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Palliative Care

It is estimated that 56.8 million people are in need of palliative care. This includes 25.7 million people in the last year of their life. However, only 14% of people worldwide who need palliative care actually receive it. Part of the reason is lack of awareness and education around what it is, both on the patient and other health care providers. Palliative care early in the disease has been shown to be effective in improving the quality of life in patients. In some cases, it has even been shown to extend life, reduce hospital stay, reduce visits to the emergency room, and improve patient and care giver satisfaction. In this blog post, we will discuss all the ins and outs on palliative care. Next time, we will discuss hospice and how that differs from palliative care.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is comfort care that is for individuals with a serious chronic or acute life threatening condition with the goal to improve quality of life for the patient and their family. This type of care is used to help provide relief from the symptoms of their condition. This may include pain, mental and physical stress. This may also include helping one with medical decisions and establish what goals they have regarding their care. Palliative care is provided by doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, social works, and other health care professionals. Palliative care focuses on three main areas: advance care planning, improve care coordination and communication, and improve symptom management.

Who is it for?

In New York State, there are laws that ensure all patients with a life-limiting illness are offered information regarding and access to palliative care. When you are given the diagnosis of a serious condition that may be chronic or long term, debilitating, or life threatening, you should be offered palliative care. These conditions include but are not limited to heart disease, congestive heart failure, cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, respiratory conditions such as COPD, HIV/AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and multiple sclerosis (MS). It is a big misconception that palliative care is only available to people who are in the later stages of PD but any person at any stage can be eligible.

Is it covered by insurance?

Palliative care is covered by Medicare and Medicaid and commercial insurance plans similar to how your cardiologist, pulmonologist or other specialist are reimbursed. Access to a social worker or financial consultant through your palliative care provider should help you to understand your benefit coverage.

As most of our readers see a neurologist from Albany Med, it is important to highlight the palliative care team at Albany Med. Here is a message from Albany Med: "The Albany Med Health System's palliative care team offers compassionate and personalized care to patients at any stage of illness. Our teams coordinate across specialties to help our patients manage pain and the stress of a serious illness, and meet with patients and their families to discuss the benefits or risks of treatments and procedures. We want you to make informed decisions about the care and treatment that are right for you. We offer complete medical, psychosocial and spiritual palliative care aimed at lessening your loved one's pain. Our goal is to help them manage symptoms and negative feelings while focusing on their quality of life. We also provide emotional support to the entire family during this time." Click below to see what locations offer palliative care.



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