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What is palliative care in a health care setting?

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Quick Answer

The intention of palliative care is to help people with serious illnesses to feel better by improving their overall quality of life, claims MedlinePlus. Not only does palliative care help patients cope with the physical symptoms of disease, it also helps with the emotional, social and practical issues.

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Long-term care facilities, hospitals, home health care agencies, nursing homes, cancer centers and other care facilities are examples of health care settings that provide palliative care, reports MedlinePlus. Palliative care helps comfort patients from the physical effects of illness by treating the symptoms, which may include pain, lack of sleep, loss of appetite and shortness of breath. Treatments for physical ailments include medication, physical therapy, nutritional guidance and integrative therapies as well as management for the side effects of difficult therapies.

Palliative care also helps patients and their family members with social, emotional and coping issues by providing counseling, support groups and referrals to mental health providers, says MedlinePlus. A palliative care team also provides council for practical problems, such as financial issues, employment-related problems, legal issues and insurance questions. A palliative care professional explains complicated medical forms, helps families and patients understand treatment options, connects temporary housing or transportation resources, and refers families to financial counselors.

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