What Is Palliative Care?

Definition

Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of the  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 of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is based on the needs of the patient, not on the patient’s prognosis. This care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness.

Improves Quality of Life

Palliative care teams focus on quality of life. They treat people suffering from the symptoms and stress of serious illnesses such as cancer, congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney disease, Alzheimer’sParkinson’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and many more.

Relieves Suffering From Symptoms and Stress

The goal of palliative care is to relieve suffering and provide the best possible quality of life for patients and their families.Symptoms may include pain, depression, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety. The team will help you gain the strength to carry on with daily life. In short, palliative care will help improve your quality of life.

And recent studies, including one published in the New England Journal of Medicine, have shown that patients with a serious illness who received palliative care lived longer than those who did not receive this care.

Helps You Match Treatment Options to Your Goals

The palliative care team also spends the time it takes to help you match your treatment choices to your goals. They will also make sure that all of  your doctors know and understand what you want. This gives you more control over your care and will improve your quality of life.

Works Together with Your Other Doctors

Palliative care teams are specialists who work together with you, your family and your other doctors. They provide an extra layer of support when you need it most. In addition to treating your symptoms and stress and supporting you and your family, the palliative care team communicates with all of your doctors so that everyone is on the same page. They support you every step of the way.

How to Get Palliative Care

If you or a loved one is facing a serious illness, you may benefit from palliative care. You can have palliative care at any point in your illness. Search the Palliative Care Provider Directory to find it near you. Take the quiz if you’re not sure. Then speak to your doctor, and ask for it. Bring the handout with you!