What is Palliative Care for the Elderly?

Palliative care is a term used for caring for people living with terminal illnesses. For a person living with a life-limiting illness, special care services are required in order to make the person’s life as comfortable as possible. Many palliative care clients are elderly folk, people who have lived long and fulfilling lives. However, despite this, no one wants to face their ultimate destiny all alone, or without personal and professional support services.

Let’s take a closer look at palliative care and the vital role palliative care nursing plays in caring for the elderly.

Palliative Care In the Home

While it’s never easy coming to terms with a terminal illness, people in this position want to be as comfortable as possible during the time they have left. Rather than an elderly person spending their remaining days laid up in a hospital bed, professional palliative care allows the person to move from the hospital environment to the comfort of their own home and familiar surroundings. This can only be positive and comforting for elderly people during this stage of life.

Before an individual can make the move from hospital to home, palliative care services need to coordinate with medical personnel, such as receiving a referral from a GP. Plans will then be made for palliative care based on the person’s illness and their individual needs and requirements from a medical perspective.

There is certainly no ‘one size fits all’ approach to this, as each palliative care plan needs to be tailored to each individual case for the very best outcome to be ensured.

Palliative care for the elderly in their home is a dual effort of providing the medical needs required, along with ensuring a better quality of life for the person in palliative care.

The Advantages Of Palliative Care At Home

No one enjoys being in a hospital and this is especially true of an elderly person who understands that their time is now limited. It’s always far better for the client to be cared for in the home environment, if possible, than to remain in hospital, facing constant reminders of why they are there.

Instead, the client gets to be surrounded by all their possessions, furniture and the views they are accustomed to. Not to mention the fact that loved ones can be close by at any time. This alone makes a huge difference in the psyche and outlook of the person living with a terminal illness. It’s a positive approach that makes the remaining time that much more livable.

Palliative care in the home creates a sense of normalcy that cannot be created within a clinical and sterile hospital environment. It’s all about achieving the best quality of life possible under the circumstances, while the patient is still administered the professional medical care and assistance they need.

The combined support of both professionals and loved ones have a tremendous positive impact on the person living with a serious illness.

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How Home Palliative Care Is Administered

As mentioned, before palliative care moves to the home environment, plans are put in place that target the specific needs of the client. Once the client returns to their home, palliative care nursing plays a major role in ensuring the day to day needs of the client are met on every level. Managing the person’s symptoms is one of the most important roles a palliative care nurse will undertake and is something that greatly contributes to the client’s quality of life.

Other important facets of palliative care services include the following:

  • Pain management
  • Medication management
  • Social care and emotional support
  • Performing errands, such as doing the shopping
  • Washing and feeding the client
  • Constipation and continence management
  • Providing support for family members
  • Cleaning the home
  • Meal preparation
  • Liaising with medical professionals on behalf of the client
  • Wound management
  • Oral care
  • Providing psychological support to the client and family
  • Bereavement services
  • And more…

As you can clearly see, the responsibilities of the palliative care professional are broad and varied.

The Takeaway

Palliative care in the home for the elderly is vital for improving the person’s quality of life and the professional assistance provided by in-home palliative care nursing plays a critical role in achieving the very best outcomes.