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Published on October 07, 2016

Q&A: Palliative care

handsAre you or a loved one facing a serious illness? Then you may want to learn more about palliative care. It can provide crucial support for both patients and families during a trying time. Carol Fluegge, MBA, MA, RN, Vice President of Service Lines for Mercy Health System, explains how.

Q: What is palliative care?

It’s a special form of care designed to ease the discomfort and stress that an advanced or serious illness can bring. It can greatly improve your quality of life by relieving symptoms such as pain, nausea, shortness of breath and confusion. It can also help ease the side effects of treatment.

And it can address your emotional and spiritual needs too. It can help you and your family feel more in control as you plan your treatment goals.

Q: Who qualifies for palliative care?

Anyone experiencing pain or other symptoms from a chronic illness such as heart disease, lung disease, advanced Alzheimer’s, or kidney and liver failure is a candidate.

Palliative care must be prescribed by a doctor. So if you think it might help you or a loved one, let your doctor know. It’s available at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital and in the home through Mercy Home Health (Mercy Choices).

Q: How does palliative care differ from hospice care?

The goals of palliative care and hospice are the same—to keep you comfortable and to significantly reduce the physical and emotional suffering associated with serious illnesses. The difference is that hospice care is provided to those in the last six months of life. Palliative care is offered at any point during a serious illness, often along with treatments that may cure. And it provides an extra level of support.

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