If you have an elderly parent or loved one with a terminal or life-limiting illness, you might be familiar with the term “palliative care,” also known as end-of-life care.
Palliative care is designed to “help patients enjoy the best possible quality of life right up until the end of life. “
A palliative care team may include Doctors, Social Workers, specialists, and Registered Nurses who will help manage your parent’s symptoms and help them to be as comfortable as possible as they near the end of life.
Understanding palliative care will help you better meet the needs of your aging parent or loved one.
Respecting Your Parent’s Wishes
If your parent can no longer make decisions because they are not mentally competent, your parent’s Power of Attorney for Personal Care will need to make decisions on their behalf. The more everyone knows about what your parent’s wishes are, the more likely everyone is to respect those decisions.
There are three key questions you must know the answer to when arranging palliative care
- If your parent loses consciousness, would they want to continue receiving nutrition and hydration via feeding tube, even if it means they might not regain consciousness? Keep in mind that not receiving nutrition or hydration usually results in death within 2 to 3 days.
- If your parent is found without vital signs, would they want resuscitation to be attempted? If not, it may reduce the opportunity for friends and family to be present at the time of death. If yes, resuscitation could result in broken bones, severe bruising and other health concerns, and even if they are resuscitated, they may never enjoy the same quality of life as they had previously.
- Would your parent prefer to die at home, or in a hospice or hospital setting? You and your parent should be aware that some hospice facilities enforce mandatory DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) directives. If your parent wants to die at home, what kind of care will they need and who will provide it?
These are difficult questions to ask, but critical to have the answers to.
Different Types of Palliative Care
Palliative care can be provided at home, in a hospice or long-term care facility, or at a hospital.
Your parent may prefer to stay in the comfort of their own home. Aside from the obvious advantages, being at home often makes it easier for friends and family to visit. Your parent may be eligible to receive care through a Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). But depending on their healthcare needs, and the availability of family to provide care, it is likely that additional care will be required – as the hours of care provided by the LHIN are usually just a fraction of what is needed.
More about palliative care
Get the essential information you need about palliative care, all in one place. See our in-depth Practical guide to palliative care at the end of life.
Choosing what type of palliative care your parent or loved one will receive can be difficult. Keep this information in mind as you go about choosing a palliative care setting.
Learn more information about our senior care services.
Eldercare Home Health has been providing palliative care for the elderly in Toronto and the GTA since 1995. We always have a palliative care certified Registered Nurse on staff. If you need palliative care for an elderly parent at home, call us. We can help.