10/07/2009

The comfort care of individuals who are approaching death...

Language is an integral part of our lives, and even if we state facts or ask questions, it may change our lives. Language also classifies and distinguishes the realities that we encounter. We must recognize that there are many different terms in the bioethics relating to care at the end-of-life - such as hospice care, palliative care... I will present here their specific definitions in very simple form so anybody can understand them.

1. Palliative Care is medical treatment that enhances comfort and improves the quality of an individual’s life as his or her physical condition deteriorates. Palliative Care is an agreement between your loved one and his or her physician, primary caregiver (who may be you or a family member or friend) and the Hospice team about the extent of medical care that he or she wishes to have provided as life winds down. Ideally, Palliative Care segues into Hospice Care as a terminal illness progresses. The individual’s choices and decisions regarding care are paramount, and must be followed. These choices and decisions should be articulated in an Advance Directive such as a Living Will or a Durable Power of Attorney.

2. Hospice Care provides comfort and support to your loved one, you, family and friends when an individual’s condition no longer responds to curative treatments. Hospice is a philosophy of care designed to provide comfort as well as spiritual and emotional support for individuals in the final phase of a NATIONAL HOSPICE AND PALLIATIVE CARE ORGANIZATION terminal illness. While Hospice neither prolongs nor hastens death, it should be noted that when patients choose Hospice, they may give up their right to seek curative treatment depending upon the terms of their particular insurance coverage. For example, Medicare patients generally may be responsible for certain “out-of-pocket” Hospice costs.

In sum, through a patient-centered and team- oriented approach, both Palliative Care and Hospice Care provide medical treatment and comfort to your loved one at life’s end as well as emotional support to you, your family and friends.

Source: http://www.caringinfo.org/resouces/brochures.htm#eolcare

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