Quality of Life at End of Life Can Be Aided by Palliative Care

Some terminally ill patients who receive palliative care live longer and with a better quality of life than those who receive standard medical care, a new report suggests.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School evaluated the life expectancy and quality of life of roughly 150 patients with terminal lung cancers. They compared 74 patients who received standard medical care in the last months of life with 77 patients who received palliative care in addition to standard care after diagnosis. Patients were asked questions about their mood and their quality of life at the start of the study and again after 12 weeks of treatments.

Patients receiving palliative care, which focuses on treating pain, anxiety and loss of appetite, reported a 50% lower rate of depression than non-palliative patients. They also lived an average of 2.5 months longer than the other patients, according to the report. The study appears in the the New England Journal of Medicine.

Death an dying is not something people want to talk about. Even when loved ones have spelled out their wishes we often subject them to unnecessary medical treatment that does little good. I was speaking to a hospital client last week and we talked about how some treatment modalities such as hospice care are so misunderstood. There is a time when the medical establishment clearly has done all it can. Wouldn’t you rather have a few more months with a loved one who was lucid and living a quality life to their last day. Consider these options and talk to your family members about them. End of life discussions are not easy but the sooner you have them the better.