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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Palliative Care: House Calls to Manage Chronic and Serious Medical Conditions

May 19, 2020 08:17PM ● By Sheila Lill

The Essence of Palliative Care

Many people suffer with symptoms related to chronic or serious illness, side effects from treatment of that illness and coping with living with chronic illness. Standard treatment of an illness may include short visits with the primary care provider and specialists, focused on the illness only. The palliative care specialist looks at the whole picture of all illnesses and symptoms a person endures. They spend time with the person and family, and address fears, hopes and coping mechanisms surrounding the illness. In essence, palliative care aims to help people live life to the highest quality despite what their bodies are going through. 

It’s not Hospice

Many confuse palliative care with hospice care. While both provide comfort from symptoms, the terms are not interchangeable. Hospice provides professional services to care for someone in the end stages of someone’s illness. Palliative care is provided alongside disease treatment at any stage of the illness. Therefore, sometimes people are discharged from palliative care when their symptoms are well-managed or they are cured from their illness. Someone with a chronic or serious illness may have a palliative care specialist alongside their other providers for the full duration of their illness, just like any other specialist. Above all, nothing needs to be given up if the palliative care team is involved. It’s an extra layer of care on top of all other medical treatments provided. 

The Need for Such Care

According to the Administration on Aging, the population of people that are 65 years old and older has increased from 37.2 million in 2006 to 49.2 million in 2016. By 2040, it’s estimated there’ll be about 82.3 million older adults. As the population ages, more people will need health care in order to remain at home, stay out of the hospital and live out a comfortable life. Only a small portion of these people will be in the end stages of their illness and in need of hospice services. However, these people will require more than a short visit with their primary care provider or specialist to fully meet their needs. Palliative care aims to fill that gap. It provides longer and more frequent provider visits, supports the person and their family while keeping them updated on next steps in the illness, controls symptoms associated with that illness, finds them resources in the community to help them, and most importantly, focuses on their psychosocial and spiritual health. 

Additionally, more and more people are struggling with a cancer diagnosis. The fear, heartbreak, physical symptoms and despair that can be associated with this diagnosis is often left unaddressed. Having a holistic team of palliative providers by their side just might make the difference in life fulfillment, peace, comfort and hope. Many studies have shown that adding palliative care to the treatment plan improves quality of life, mood and even survival in some cases.

Palliative care is a growing healthcare specialty that provides holistic care to the individual. This medical care specialty can be of great benefit to anyone that needs a holistic touch to the management of their illness or symptoms. 

Sheila Lill, MSN, APN, ACHPN, is the director of Angelic Health Palliative Care and Wellness Center, at 1050 Mantua Pike, First Fl., in Wenonah. She has worked in health care since 2004, the last six years as a nurse practitioner in palliative care. She has a degree in adult gerontology nurse practitioner and is certified in palliative medicine by the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association. She also sees patients at this location for holistic symptom management for those that have unmanaged symptoms. She also teaches meditation and yoga, and has a passion for holistic and integrative medicine. The center provides aromatherapy, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, massage, reiki, counseling and dietitian services. For more information, call 856-812-7970 or visit Angelic.Health.