Palliative Care & End-of-Life Care
Palliative care helps people with life-threatening illnesses live the best quality of life by relieving suffering, controlling symptoms and restoring function. Care is provided to individuals and their family caregivers. It is respectful of their values, beliefs and culture. Palliative care can be given along with curative care and does not necessarily mean that you or your loved one is near death.
Knowing the options when you need care is vital for you and for your family. Palliative care treats the whole person - body, mind and spirit - and the whole family. The goals in providing this care are to:
- Respect the individual's and family's beliefs, goals and choices;
- Use the expertise of a team of care providers and community resources;
- Provide physical, psychological, social and spiritual support to the ill or dying person as well as their family;
- Provide care in a setting that best meets the needs and preferences of the individual and family;
- Extend support to assist families with grief and bereavement
On some level we all know we are going to die, but many of us choose not to believe it. Most of us have not given much thought to how we would like to live the last days of our lives. Thinking about the end of life for us or for our loved ones is not easy. It is even more difficult to talk about dying and death. Yet talking can help provide peace of mind. It allows everyone to learn about the needs and wishes of their loved ones. This time should be thought of as an opportunity to share not how we want to die, but how we want to live.
We know that some people live their last days alone, in pain, or receiving high-tech medical treatment that they may not have wanted. It does not have to be this way. The doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains and others at Centura Health are here to help you by providing appropriate health care, information and options to support you and your family when facing difficult end-of-life decisions.
The best way to get the care that respects you or your loved ones' preferences is to plan ahead before a health crisis or medical emergency arises. If you already have a life-threatening illness, start the discussion now. Advance planning affords us the opportunity to make our own life-and-death decisions. This spares our loved ones the burden of guessing our final wishes and allows them to better care for us in a time of great need. Steps you can take now include:
- Talk with your loved ones about preferences for end-of-life care. Talk about hopes and fears in language that is comfortable. Be a good listener and take your time. Click here for tips on How to Talk About End-of-Life Care.
- Talk about end-of-life decisions with your family, friends, doctor, and clergy to help determine the values and decisions that are important to you. Click here for examples of Questions.
- Prepare and sign advance directives that accurately reflect your decisions and comply with your state's law. Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to express your wishes for care when you are seriously ill and designate someone to make health-care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. If you would like copies of these forms, click here.
- Inform your loved ones and doctor about your preferences and give them copies of your advance directives.
Centura Health is collaborating with people with life-threatening illnesses, family caregivers, bereaved people, community organizations and professional caregivers to promote better end-of-life care in Colorado.