Palliative Care Comforts and Improves Quality of Life

Pain, discomfort and emotional distress are just a few of the issues patients face when diagnosed with life-limiting illnesses. For the palliative care specialist, improving quality of life is paramount.

Yet, few families understand fully the benefits of palliative care services. Stacie R. Ward, R.N., M.S., A.P.N., a clinical nurse specialist with the Ingalls Home Care home-based Palliative Care program says palliative care can improve a patient's quality of life.

In fact, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients with non-small-cell lung cancer who received palliative care reported an improved quality of life through the final course of their illness. Those patients also lived an average of three months longer.

For patients dealing with any life-limiting illness, palliative care helps relive symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea, difficulty sleeping and anxiety.

Anna Wojcik of Willowbrook agrees. Her mother Malgorzata, who recently died of cervical cancer at the age of 51, was a patient enrolled in Ingalls' Palliative Care program. Along with helping to manage Malgorzata's pain, Anna says the program increased her mother's appetite, eased her anxiety and helped her to sleep better.

"The program was a very valuable resource because it managed my mother's pain and anxiety so well," said Anna. "My mother was coherent and able to continue living her life the way she wanted to, right up until the end. I would absolutely recommend palliative care to any one dealing with a life-limiting illness."

"We know that managing a patient's pain and helping make lifestyle modifications can lead to a better quality of life," said Stacie, "and we support our patients every step of the way."

Palliative care can be provided at any stage in the patient's illness, even if the patient is seeking curative treatment. Ingalls works with the attending physician to support both patients and their families. Services may be as simple as helping families cope with their loved one's illness and preventing caregiver burnout. Patients and their families also get help navigating the healthcare system.

"We provide a comprehensive care plan that may include in-home nursing care, wound care, rehabilitative services, psychiatric services, support groups and hospice care," continued Stacie. "Our goal is to help each and every patient live out each day to the best of their ability."

Call 708.331.0226 for more information.

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