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Your Healthy Family: What is palliative care?

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We're physician led and we have several nurse practitioners. Involved in care as well as chaplain and counselor and we all work together collaboratively We're physician led and we have several nurse practitioners. Involved in care as well as chaplain and counselor and we all work together collaboratively

As we age or run into serious medical problems, it can be hard to manage the various aspects of need that can arise and the many ways those problems can affect different facets of our lives. Wouldn't it be nice if a team of providers under one roof could help you address all those problems? There is approach to medicine out there just like that it's called palliative care.

Dr. Chris Ruskey is board certified in family medicine, palliative medicine and hospice care.  Dr. Ruskey explains, “Palliative care is whole person care that approaches a person's challenges oftentimes illness taking into account that they are they have a physical self spiritual self a psychological self, and a social self. And so we base our approach to care taking that all into consideration.”

One key to effective palliative care is communication and having the right person leading the team.  At Interim Healthcare in Colorado Springs Dr. Ruskey says their approach is clear.  “We're physician led, and we have several nurse practitioners involved in care as well as a chaplain and counselor.  We all work together collaboratively in an interdisciplinary fashion to best understand a person, and their situation to explore options for their care.”

Dr. Chris ruskey says the benefits of palliative care are proven.  “There was a landmark study that was done in 2010 and 2011 and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011 related to people who were suffering from advanced lung cancer.  What they found when comparing individuals who received routine care, with those folks who got palliative care service, is that people's sense of control and quality of life improved markedly under palliative care.  There was less depression, people felt they had more energy as well as higher levels of function and higher quality of life.  A big surprise from the study was that people who received palliative care services lived about 30% longer than the people who did not.  So not only was there a benefit with respect to symptom management and quality of life but also the surprising benefit of improved longevity.”

In the coming months in Your Healthy Family, we'll be talking more about palliative care, who's a good candidate, and how the team approach works at Interim Healthcare.

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