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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 406164, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.4061/2011/406164
Research Article

Meaning and Practice of Palliative Care for Hospitalized Older Adults with Life Limiting Illnesses

1School of Nursing, University of Rochester, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box SON, Rochester, NY 14642, USA
2School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box SON, Rochester, NY 14642, USA

Received 26 October 2010; Accepted 22 January 2011

Academic Editor: Nancy Hodgson

Copyright © 2011 Bethel Ann Powers et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Objective. To illustrate distinctions and intersections of palliative care (PC) and end-of-life (EOL) services through examples from case-centered data of older adults cared for during a four-year ethnographic study of an acute care hospital palliative care consultation service. Methods. Qualitative narrative and thematic analysis. Results. Description of four practice paradigms (EOL transitions, prognostic uncertainty, discharge planning, and patient/family values and preferences) and identification of the underlying structure and communication patterns of PC consultation services common to them. Conclusions. Consistent with reports by other researchers, study data support the need to move beyond equating PC with hospice or EOL care and the notion that EOL is a well-demarcated period of time before death. If professional health care providers assume that PC services are limited to assisting with and helping patients and families prepare for dying, they miss opportunities to provide care considered important to older individuals confronting life-limiting illnesses.