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Have your parent's doctors mentioned palliative care?

Perhaps your parent had little to no idea that when he or she worked out at the Avondale shipyards that asbestos exposure would someday lead to a diagnosis of mesothelioma. By now, your family probably knows that there is no cure for this condition.

As the disease progresses, your loved one may reach a point where his or her doctors begin mentioning palliative care instead of further treatment.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is not quite the same as hospice care. Its focus is to enhance your loved one's comfort and, therefore, quality of life. This type of care focuses on symptom management and prevention and relies on the coordination of care, advanced planning and clear communication. The priority is caring for the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of your loved one. You and your family may also receive care in order to help your loved one and help you cope with the circumstances.

Palliative care can take place at home, on an outpatient basis or in the hospital. This team approach includes the following:

  • Nurses
  • Palliative care doctors
  • Occupational, physical and speech therapists
  • Social workers
  • General practitioners or specialists
  • Nursing assistants
  • Home health aides
  • Chaplains

Your loved one receives care for pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of appetite and nausea. Providing relief for these symptoms could allow your loved one to enjoy some quality of life even under the circumstances. Suffering from an incurable condition does not mean that life has to end too soon. Instead, your loved one could enjoy the days, weeks or months ahead.

Adding one more to the team

If your loved one receives palliative care for mesothelioma, he or she may also benefit from adding one more person to the team -- an attorney. This disease is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos. Working at a shipyard used to mean dealing with a significant amount of the toxic substance. This means that your loved one may be entitled to benefits that could help with the financial losses associated with this disease.

This condition requires a significant amount of medical and other care, which costs money. Even with health insurance, the out of pocket expenses could reach into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments, including palliative care all result in these expenses. Pursuing benefits for mesothelioma is not an easy task since it often takes decades after asbestos exposure for the condition to take hold. Having a compassionate and experienced legal advocate could make all the difference.

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