A moment of awareness occurs in every caregiver’s journey with an aging patient. It’s a time when the patient’s quality of life may best be supported by early palliative care.

Palliative care is a next level of care for someone experiencing chronic pain or symptoms. Patient needs may increase in the areas of self care, medication management, and other details of daily life. That’s why it’s important that a patient’s quality of life is supported by early referral to palliative care providers.

A nurse or other qualified professional may assist family caregivers in managing care for their loved one. Professional caregivers will then be scheduled to accommodate the patient’s daily routines. These plans are coordinated with the family for the highest quality of care. Often considered part of Hospice care services in Alpharetta, Georgia, palliative care helps to stabilize patient and family life. Palliative care is helpful when an increase of care is needed due to the symptoms and progression of aging.

Identification of patient needs is an important factor in palliative care services in Georgia. Those who are aging may feel uncomfortable with the increasing limitations. They may struggle with a loss of autonomy. The loss of an ability to perform certain kinds of tasks can signal that palliative care is needed.

If you are a family caregiver, here are some things to notice and bring to the attention of your loved one’s medical provider.

Is medication being managed properly?
Medication management should not be taken for granted. Is medication being taken at the correct times of day? Is your loved one taking too much medication, or not enough? Is it the right medication, or is there confusion about which medication does what? Medication management means that medication should be administered on a schedule. A low tech solution might be a daily pill box with labels for times of day. Another solution may be a machine that dispenses medication on a schedule. In some cases, a qualified care provider may need to be on hand to dispense medications.

Is the person able to manage his or her own self-care?
Every hospice team knows the importance of having the patient get enough rest and meals. Similarly, palliative care also focuses on the importance of good nutrition and adequate rest. However, aging patients may be able to manage some areas of self care and not others. For example, brushing one’s hair and teeth may not be an issue, but getting in and out of a bath may be problematic. Palliative care meets patients where they are in the care continuum.

Are family caregivers being asked for increasing levels of support?
For many families, caring for an elder or loved one with a life-limiting or terminal illness is a labor of love. However, family caregivers may need to set boundaries and time limits on how much they can give. This does not mean that one loves the person any less. Instead, it respects the emotional, financial and mental toll it can take to be a caretaker. If you are a family caretaker, it’s important to prioritize your overall health and well-being. Respite care can provide a much-needed break for family caregivers if and when needed.

FAMILY FIRST HOSPICE CARE can provide palliative care for your family members.