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 specialize in treating 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. This type of care treats pain, depression, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, anxiety and any other symptoms that may be causing distress.

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.

Close Communication

The palliative care team will also spend time talking to you and listening. They will make sure you understand all of your treatment options and choices. By deeply exploring your personal goals, the palliative care team will help you match those goals to your treatment options. They will also make sure that all of  your doctors are coordinated and know and understand what you want. This gives you more control over your care and will improve your quality of life.

A Partnership of Palliative Care Team, Patient and Family

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 coordinates and communicates with all of your doctors so that everyone is on the same page. They support you every step of the way.

Talking to Your Doctor

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!