Are you caring for a loved one? You don’t have to do it alone.

Does someone you love have a serious illness? If so, you are one of the millions of Americans caring for a sick family member. You may be just checking in and picking up the groceries, or you may be taking care of your loved one around the clock. It’s never easy. Palliative care can help.

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness and their families. It will provide an extra layer of support to help manage your loved one’s pain and symptoms. It will help your family understand the treatment options. And it will help you and your loved one cope with the day-to-day challenges of living with a serious illness. Your loved one can get palliative care at the same time as treatment for their disease, so that they can live as well as possible.

It’s not easy to talk about, but caregiving is hard on you. It hurts emotionally, it hurts your body and it hurts your pocketbook. Caregivers can be depressed and feel guilty that they can’t do more. Caregivers face the stress of dealing with a complex healthcare system. And caregivers rarely have time to look after themselves.

Palliative care takes a team approach so you don’t have to do it alone anymore. Palliative care teams include a doctor, a nurse and a social worker. All of them will be specialists in palliative care. They will spend as much time as needed to learn about your situation and make a plan for your loved one’s care.

Ask your local health system about palliative care services in your area. An extra layer of support can make a big difference. Expert pain and symptom control will keep your loved one more comfortable. A 24-7 telephone hotline to nursing advice could help you and your loved one avoid unwanted trips to the emergency room. And you may be able to find nursing help or meal delivery services so that you can take a break. You don’t have to do it alone.