Palliative care for seriously ill veterans

Palliative care for seriously ill veterans

Is your family member seriously ill or in frail condition? A veteran? If so, the VA has a special service that offers palliative care to keep your loved one comfortable.

The cause of your loved one’s ill health is not important in requesting palliative care. The point is to relieve distressing symptoms. For example, you might be concerned about pain, nausea, or shortness of breath. Your relative can receive treatment specifically to keep such discomforts at bay.

Palliative care professionals work in a team, which allows them to treat the whole person. For instance, a social worker can address with emotional issues and a chaplain can address spiritual distress.

With palliative care:

  • Providers come to the home. Or to a residential or skilled care facility or hospital.
  • Your loved one may continue curative treatments.
  • The focus is comfort and quality of life. The team works to make each day the best day it can be.
  • Counseling support is also provided for family members, if desired.

Veterans who request palliative care can still receive treatment for curing the disease. For example, suppose your loved one has cancer. They can continue with chemo. The palliative care team would provide assistance for dealing with the pain of the cancer and the nausea from treatment. The team could also help with any emotional or spiritual issues. This support is available for the veteran and for the veteran’s family caregivers.

Palliative care is available to any veteran who is enrolled in the VA for health services. Most of the care is provided free of charge or with a very small copay.