I’m delighted to welcome Diane E. Meier, M.D. as a guest blogger for Caregiving With Purpose. Dr. Meier is Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Co-Director of the Patty and Jay Baker National Palliative Care Center.
Palliative care differs from hospice. While hospice provides palliative care for the terminally ill, palliative care can also be given to patients with serious illnesses who also receive conventional including curative treatment.
Dr. Meier is an expert in palliative care, and understands the issues caregivers face with it. More than just caring for your loved one, palliative care includes support for the family and caregivers. Dr. Meier explains…
Palliative Care: Your Partner in Caregiving
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is an around-the-clock effort – one that can tap a family’s emotional, physical and financial resources. Many families go from crisis to crisis, putting out one fire here only to quickly react to another one emerging there.
Planning is essential to ensure that the needs of patients are met throughout the course of their illness and provide caregivers with resources to help them with the many decisions that lie ahead. This is one of the many things palliative care can do.
One of the roles of a palliative care team is to help family caregivers with emotional and practical support, such as treatment decisions and long-term care options.
Critical to this is making sure that you – the caregiver – are okay. What supports do you need to help keep you emotionally and physically well?
We want to know:
- Are you sleeping?
- Are you eating?
- Are you depressed?
- Do you take time for yourself?
- Do you spend time with friends and family?
When a person has Alzheimer’s disease, the focus is on them. But illness happens to the family and primary caregivers bear an unusually high burden. To help the patient, we also have to help the family caregiver.
Family members can talk to the palliative care team about their many concerns, such as:
- How can we get the best care for our loved one?
- What should we do when she can no longer eat or drink?
- How do we deal with her agitation?
- How do we ensure her safety in the home and the community?
- What at-home supports are covered by government agencies and insurance?
Palliative care teams help answer these and many other questions and guide the decisions that will lead to the best care possible. This allows you to be in the driver’s seat – fully informed about options and supported in the decision-making process.
How you can access palliative care
- Ask your doctor or nurse about it.
- Learn more about palliative care, including how to find it in your area by visiting www.GetPalliativeCare.org.
- If your family member is in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or receives homecare services in New York State, you are entitled to palliative care services. Learn more at www.health.ny.gov.
- The Alzheimer’s Association is also an excellent resource for caregivers and has local chapters throughout the country.
While palliative care can be a part of end of life care, it is not limited to the terminally ill. It can be part of the care of many serious illnesses, including Alzheimers disease and other dementias.
What do you think about palliative care and dementia? Leave a comment below.
From my heart to yours… Laugh Well, Love Well and Live Well!
Ina Gilmore, M.D.
“The Knitting Dr.”
Founder, www.CaregivingWithPurpose.com and www.TheKnittingYarn.com
Ambassador of Caregiving at www.HowToLiveOnPurpose.com