Palliative Care: Will the New Law Affect Your Plans?

Tips for the Elderly – Palliative Care

In February 2011, the Palliative Care Information Act was amended by the state of New York. This Act requires that doctors and nurse practitioners inform terminally ill patients about their end-of-life options – and offer counseling regarding their palliative care options. To receive palliative care under the New York Statute, the patient must reasonably be expected to be in the last six months of his or her expected lifespan, which is also a standard required for hospice care.

Just some of the information that must be provided to the patient and his or her loved ones include:

  • His or her diagnosis and the course the disease will take;
  • The options that he or she has available for treatment;
  • Risks and benefits of these treatments;
  • Legal rights to pain and symptom management during his or her final months.

If the patient cannot make decisions on his or her own or are incapacitated, then his or her healthcare proxy (which is already appointed), will make decisions based on the information provided.

Using Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care

Palliative care is the medical care for patients who have terminally ill prognosis. This provides relief from the symptoms, pain, emotional distress, and more – and it is often referred to as “comfort care.” Most people associate palliative care with hospice care, but they are different. Hospice care is eligible under healthcare insurance when the patient has six months left to live, while palliative care can be initiated earlier during any stage of the illness – and not necessarily as part of an end-of-life care plan. Hospice and palliative care do both focus on making the patient as comfortable as possible, and helping the families care for their ailing relative. It also helps them cope with the process, and aid the quality of life for the patient. Most individuals do not realize, however, that palliative care is focused on symptom management – not making things comfortable for the end-of-life stages.

The Future of End-of-Life and Terminal Care

While palliative care was introduced in 2007, it is now offered by more than 70 percent of hospitals in the country, and those numbers are expected to grow exponentially as healthcare insurance changes take hold in the country. The results of palliative care programs have been encouraging and the reports have shown a decrease in the likelihood of ending up in intensive care units, or even suffering from depression. Most patients are satisfied with the palliative care that is provided, and they have even been shown to live longer than being provided with hospice care. Another added benefit to palliative care is the cost savings – because patients receive their care in their home and no longer encounter the rising costs of a hospital stay.

Add Palliative Care to Your Elder Care Plan

As you age, you will need to start making important decisions about your health and even end-of-life planning. One of the best decisions that you can make is palliative care, especially if you are diagnosed with a terminal condition. Palliative care can be used in place of or as a supplement to hospice care to help further your life and the quality of life. To explore your options for drafting your wishes, contact an estate planning attorney. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with your estate plan, as well as elder care plan. Schedule a consultation now by calling 516-605-0625, or request your appointment online.

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