Palliative care, often referred to as end-of-life care, is specialized medical care that focuses on reducing suffering and improving quality of life for individuals with life-threatening illnesses. Palliative care does not just treat the patient’s physical symptoms. Rather, it examines the emotional, psychological, and social distress that the patient experiences. Further, palliative care professionals support the patient’s family by ensuring that both the patient and family understand and are comfortable about treatment decisions.
Individuals facing life-threatening illnesses require special attention and often face severe and unusual complications. Symptoms including intense pain, fatigue, nausea, depression, and anxiety are also common in palliative care patients. Due to the complexity and severity of the patient’s circumstance, it is crucial to have experts that specialize in palliative care to assist and care for these patients. Nurse practitioners and physicians can become board certified in palliative care by completing advanced training and passing exams demonstrating specialized expertise.
According to data from the Texas State Data Center at the University of Texas at San Antonio, the population of Texans over 85 years of age will triple from 2010 to 2040. As this baby boomer population enters retirement, the needs of Texas’ elders will increase rapidly. It is imperative that Texas invest in the workforce that cares for this population, and this includes increasing the number of palliative care specialists. Palliative care experts are essential to care for Texas’ elders in a manner that promotes their quality of life and well-being and guides them and their families in making decisions regarding end-of-life care. Additionally, Texas must examine innovative models of long-term care to create an efficient system that offers quality care to aging Texans in the least restrictive and most comfortable environment.
by Keveny Avila