Understanding Palliative Care

When you begin completing your Keystone Digital Living Will, one of the medical treatment options that will be available to you is the administration of palliative care.

What is palliative care? How will it affect your quality of life during your final days? Is it the best option for you and your loved ones?

Defining Palliative Care

Palliative care is a medical specialty that focuses on relieving or managing symptoms from a disease or from treatment. This is a relatively new specialty that deviates from the more common practice of treating solely to cure a disease. Palliative care frequently addresses the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bladder problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss or wasting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Depression
  • Mental confusion
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue

Palliative care is used in association with diseases, conditions, and treatments including the following:

  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • AIDS
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • ALS

Palliative Care as a Decision in Your Living Will

Palliative care may be administered at any stage in a disease or course of treatment.

In the context of your advance directive, a decision about palliative care would go into effect only in a terminal condition when you are medically unable to communicate your decisions.

Palliative care aims to keep you as comfortable and pain-free as realistically possible while abiding by your other treatment wishes. The other treatments you elect to receive or have withheld, in conjunction with the nature of the disease or condition, will affect the palliative care options available for you.

Quality of Life and a Dignified Death

The World Health Organization states that “all people have a right to receive high-quality care during serious illness and to a dignified death, free of overwhelming pain and in line with their spiritual and religious beliefs.”

Some individuals elect palliative care instead of potentially invasive treatments, choosing a dignified, comfortable death rather than prolonging their life at the expense of comfort.

Palliative treatments will be explained to your loved ones and can help put them at ease that you are not suffering. We always recommend completing your living will along with family members and discussing the treatment options that are best for both you and your loved ones.

Your Life, Your Choice

Your living will is meant to enhance your healthcare based on the choices that make the most sense to you and your loved ones.

There is no right or wrong—and no black or white. There are a range of medical choices that allow for varying degrees of life-prolonging treatment. When you create your living will, you should think about what medical treatments are acceptable to you.

It’s not unusual to change your mind. Keystone Digital Living Will allows you to easily update your advance directive at any time, as often as you’d like—and ensures your loved ones will access the most recent version if they ever need it.

You don’t have to know all the answers now to get started. Click here to begin creating your Keystone Digital Living Will.

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