Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness like a brain tumor as well as their families. The focus of palliative care is to provide support and relief from the symptoms and stress that a serious illness can cause.
Palliative care is not focused on curing an illness, but it can be provided in combination with curative care like radiation and chemotherapy, which have the goal of treating disease. Also, palliative care is appropriate at any time over the course of one’s illness, unlike hospice care, which includes an element of time.
The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life not only for patients but also their families and care partners. If you might benefit from palliative care services, please talk to a member of your health care team as soon as possible to find support.
A brain tumor can cause troubling symptoms, and treatment can cause negative side effects. Palliative care might include medication to alleviate symptoms or side effects from treatment, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutritional changes, and more.
A brain tumor diagnosis and its treatment can impact mental health and emotional well-being of both the person diagnosed as well as their loved ones. Patients and their loved ones can feel distressed, depressed, angry, and overwhelmed.
Palliative care for mental health and emotional well-being might include activities like exercise, yoga, meditation, medication, art therapy, journaling, and other modalities. Patients, their families, and their care partners might talk with a counselor or join a community support group.
Patients with brain tumors and their loved ones may have a difficult time talking about the diagnosis or asking for help when they need it. Palliative care might include speaking with a social worker or case manager who can help plan a family meeting, organize transportation services, navigate difficult situations, and more.
Treatment for brain tumors can be expensive, insurance coverage can be confusing to navigate, and patients and their care teams may need financial support. Palliative care might include speaking with a social worker, pharmacist, or provider about cost concerns, finding a financial assistance program, or applying for medical leave or disability.
Spiritual care can support patients and their loved ones through times of need. People may search for meaning, hope, solace, or connection to something greater than themselves. Palliative care might include speaking with a hospital chaplain for spiritual support or connecting with a religious community.