A Word to Learn: Palliative

If you’re seeking information about hospice care, you may have happened upon an unfamiliar word: palliative. It’s a good word and one that describes much of what hospice care is all about.

Palliative care focuses on relieving and preventing pain and suffering. As does hospice care. By definition, though, palliative care refers to treatment for all who are suffering with pain. This includes those patients with chronic conditions, those who are aggressively treating diseases and those who are not treating diseases (and may have opted for hospice care).

Palliative care in each of its circumstances works to provide comfort to patients but does not directly work to eradicate the disease or the condition causing pain.

Whereas palliative care is a major part of all hospice care, not all palliative care is administered as part of hospice care. There are precise differences in the definitions of the two terms.

They are, however, closely related. The main group for America’s hospices is the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

Palliative care is not just about medications. “No specific therapy is excluded from consideration,” states NHPCO’s Standards of Practices for Hospice Programs in its section regarding palliative care. “The expected outcome is relief from distressing symptoms, the easing of pain, and/or enhancing the quality of life.”

A New York Times article earlier this month (click HERE for link) indicates that some hospitals are putting patients who are suffering from chronic pain but are not quite ready for hospice into palliative care units. One medical expert is quoted as saying, “We’re going to see more and more of this as patients age.”

To learn more about hospice care and the important element of palliative care, call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800. You may visit Hope Hospice online at hopehospicestl.com.

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