When should your doctor refer you to palliative care?

If you or a loved one are living with a serious illness, you should know whether palliative care is right for you. The first step is typically through the doctor who treats your illness. But not all doctors are clear on the definition of palliative care.

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. It provides relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Palliative care is provided by a specially-trained team who work together with your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in your illness. And it can be provided along with treatment that is meant to cure you.

Most doctors are trained to focus on the cure and treatment of the disease itself rather than on your quality of life issues. Palliative care is a relatively young medical specialty so it may not be on your doctor’s radar.

It’s important to know that the specially trained palliative care team works closely together with your primary doctor. They focus on the stress, other symptoms and side effects from your disease and its treatment.

Palliative care helps with pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, shortness of breath, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and much, much more. The team will spend as much time as it takes speaking with you and your family about your goals, needs and treatment options.

Palliative care improves your ability to tolerate medical treatments. And it helps you have more control over your care by improving your understanding of your choices for treatment. So if your doctor is not talking to you about adding in a palliative care team, you or your caregivers should ask for it. See if palliative care is right for you. Click here for information you can bring to your doctor. Click here to find a palliative care provider.


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