Someone you love has recently been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. You immediately feel as if the wind has been taken out of your sails, and you can’t seem to put one foot in front of the other. After learning that a loved one has a chronic illness, you’re confused, scared, and angry — and these are all natural reactive emotions.
It’s a disorienting time, and you’re going to experience a myriad of feelings. You want your friend or family member to feel comfortable, happy, and relaxed. And above all else, you want to ensure that your loved one receives the best healthcare and support available.
Once you give yourself some time to adjust and process the information, you’ll want to talk to your loved one’s doctor about the incredible benefits of palliative care from the comfort of your own home. Your friend or family member will want to improve their life with the support and assistance from healthcare professionals, and private Palliative Care offers precisely that.
Palliative Care is the specialized type of medical care focused on providing relief from physical pain and other symptoms of a life-limiting illness, regardless of the diagnosis or stage of the disease. The intention is to improve the quality of life for both the affected person and their families and is offered alongside other curative treatments, such as radiation therapy.
A team of nurses and professional Caregivers will work with you, your loved one, and your loved one’s doctors to offer an extra layer of support that complements ongoing primary treatments.
Your Home Healthcare Provider of Choice
We’re Integracare, a home care agency in Toronto specializing in Palliative Care. We’ve been offering home healthcare services for Seniors in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) for 30 years. We’re proud to offer palliative care in Mississauga and Toronto for Seniors with life-limiting illnesses. We strongly believe that home is where the heart is and that most people prefer to age in place — surrounded by familiar sights, sounds, and faces.
As a company recently awarded #1 Workplace in Toronto and Ontario and #1 Workplace in Healthcare in Canada by Great Place to Work®, we have the ability to retain the best Caregivers and provide consistent high-quality care. Our Palliative Care program is no exception. Our compassionate home care and Palliative Care programs provide pain relief — both physical and emotional — for Clients who need it.
Our team of Caregivers and Registered Practicing Nurses (RPNs) work closely and diligently to make your loved one’s life more comfortable.
While your family member or friend will receive primary treatment from a team of doctors for their condition, having a Palliative Caregiving team working at your loved one’s home will help soothe the additional pains of having a life-limiting illness, including:
- Primary Treatment Side-Effects
- Emotional and Mental Turmoil
- And more
The comforts of home care are boundless because Clients can enjoy the privacy of living in their own space and receive one-on-one support from trained and compassionate Caregivers.
What Does Palliative Care Mean to You?
When you hear the term “Palliative Care,” your mind may conjure many images. You may imagine end-of-life or a cold, isolated hospital room. You now know that your loved one doesn’t have to be in a hospital to receive this type of healthcare, and it certainly doesn’t have to mean end-of-life.
Many myths surround Palliative Care, and it’s our job as healthcare providers to disprove such falsities. Here are five common Palliative Care myths and the truths behind them.
Palliative Care Myth #1: It’s Only for People with Cancer
While palliative care for cancer patients is a critical component to increasing their quality of life, it’s also an essential aspect of healthcare plans for people with any life-limiting illness. If your loved one has been diagnosed with any of the following, they will qualify for Palliative Care:
- Stroke and Coma
- Liver Disease
- Heart Failure
- Alzheimer’s disease and other Dementia Types
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- And any other life-limiting illness.
Depending on what illness your family member or friend has, our Caregivers and RPNs will create a specialized healthcare plan to help improve their life and overall well-being. For example, suppose your loved one experiences pain and tension in their back and limbs from Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis. In that case, we can offer specialized massage services from one of our Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs).
The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Palliative Clients
Massage Therapy is the practice of manipulating the body’s soft tissues through kneading and other massage techniques from professional RMTs. It’s something that we encourage our Palliative Clients to consider because of its incredible health benefits. Our RMTs know how to work gently and carefully with Senior Clients because of their extensive training and education.
Some of the benefits of receiving regular Massage Therapy include:
- A decrease in muscle tension.
- Improved circulation.
- Better sleeping patterns.
- Reduced anxiety.
Sometimes, living with a life-limiting illness can feel overwhelming and lonely. Your loved one may be living with Dementia or another type of illness that takes away their ability to communicate clearly. They may be living in pain, and you might not even know it. Massage Therapy doesn’t just provide pain relief; it also provides the healing power of touch. Receiving regular Massage Therapy can help Clients feel less alone and provide a type of emotional support that is unlike any other. It lowers people’s stress levels and has even been known to alleviate depression.
Palliative Care for People living with Dementia
Many people may not know that “Dementia” is not a specific disease, but rather it’s a term that describes many types and symptoms of a disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of Dementia — at least 50 million people worldwide currently have Alzheimer’s. Integracare is proud to offer Dementia Care for Palliative Clients who need it as part of our services.
Our Caregivers receive ongoing intensive education and training from The Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto. They work with Clients in all stages of Dementia, from early to late, and will provide compassion and professionalism in any situation.
When Clients are in the later stages, they can lose the ability to speak, walk, and eat food independently. There will come a time when they’ll require round-the-clock care, and you shouldn’t have to do it alone.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with any type of Dementia, don’t hesitate to reach out to us to discuss our Dementia and palliative care at home services. The two go hand-in-hand.
Palliative Care Myth #2: It Means That There’s No Hope Left
One of the most common misconceptions about Palliative Care is that, if diagnosed, doctors and specialists have given up, and there’s no hope left. This is a dangerous myth because it’s simply not the case. If your loved one’s doctor has suggested that they receive this type of support, it’s not because they’ve given up hope on them. Instead, they want your loved one to feel as comfortable and happy as possible during a challenging time.
A person with a life-limiting illness can receive Palliative Care from the very first stages of their illness; they can continue to live and enjoy life for many years to come.
The primary purpose of Palliative Care is to provide an extra layer of support. Even when your loved one feels healthy and strong, they may feel worried or anxious about the future. A team of Palliative Caregivers can help them feel stronger by offering personal support services at home, a shoulder to cry on, and can offer helpful advice on seeking counselling.
However, it’s important to remember that if the person you love has received an official life-limiting illness diagnosis, the focus now is increasing their quality of life, not on finding a cure. You want them to feel relaxed and stress-free at home, receiving care and support from professional Caregivers and Nurses.
Often, accepting the news that someone you love has a serious illness can be tougher on family members than the person with the disease. You may find it hard to accept that there’s no cure, and seeing your loved one experience pain can be incredibly challenging. Part of Palliative Care is providing support to not just Clients but also their friends and family members.
You must check-in with yourself — are you feeling overwhelmed? Do you feel hopeless? This is a lot to take on. Communicate regularly with your loved one’s Caregiver and consider exploring therapy or support groups to ensure that you’re getting the help you need. It’s a stressful time, and you must take care of yourself.
Palliative Care Myth #3: Pain is a Part of Having a Life-Limiting Illness
If someone has a life-limiting illness, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have to experience pain. Each chronic disease has unique symptoms, and everyone’s pain level differs — whether it’s physical or emotional. And if pain is part of your loved one’s experience, there are many ways to mitigate it.
Our Nurses are trained to manage prescription medications and distribute such medications accordingly and safely. They’ll also implement daily pain-management methods into your friend or family member’s healthcare plan to monitor and manage symptoms.
For example, our Nurses might ask your loved one each morning to rank their pain on a scale from one to ten to assess appropriate measures for the day and see how or if their pain is decreasing.
Palliative Care #4: All Pain Medications are Addictive
Addiction is something we take incredibly seriously at Integracare. Not all medications are addictive, but we understand family members’ concerns over the subject since it’s so topical and relevant to Palliative Care.
Our Caregivers will speak with your loved one’s doctors and medical team to ensure that they know what prescriptions, and how much, to distribute to your family member or friend within 24-hour periods. They’ll carefully record each distribution so that all Palliative team members are on the same page.
Our Caregivers and Nurses work hard to provide the safest and best care for Clients. Providing comfort and a joyful life are two of our highest priorities, and as a team, we work hard to precisely deliver those things. If your loved one takes a potent opioid such as morphine or fentanyl for pain relief, their Palliative team will work closely with each other and outside doctors to safely monitor such medications.
Palliative Care #5: Palliative and Hospice Care Are the Same Things
Another myth about Palliative Care is that it’s the same as hospice care. While there are similarities between the two support systems — for example, they both offer comfort to people living with life-limiting illnesses — there are a few striking differences. The main difference is that people can receive Palliative Care at any stage of their disease, while hospice is reserved for those nearing the end-of-life.
Hospice care is the unique type of care that focuses on increasing the quality of life of patients and their loved ones in the advanced stages of life-limiting illnesses. Palliative Care is slightly less restrictive as anyone with a life-limiting illness qualifies for the care and support system and can receive it at any stage of the illness.
Get the Help You Deserve
We’ve been in the healthcare business for 30 years, and we understand the challenges you and your family are facing because we’ve seen (and experienced) similar situations before. We can’t take away all of the heartache, but we can make it a little less painful by alleviating the stress and anxiety of living with chronic illness.
Our Palliative Care team will come straight to your loved one’s place of residence to help them feel comfortable and relaxed using professional and compassionate methods.
It’s a type of support fit for anyone with a life-limiting illness — it doesn’t mean there’s no hope left, and it’s always professionally-supervised by caring and empathetic Caregivers. It’s a crucial type of support system that works alongside other primary medical treatments, and it will help your loved one feel safe, comfortable, and secure at home.
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of Palliative Care, please contact us. We’re here for you whenever you need.