FAQ:  What is palliative care?

What is Palliative Care?

It is specialized medical care for people living with serious illness. It focuses on providing 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 often provided by a team of palliative care doctors, nurses, social workers and others who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.

Why have Palliative Care?

Palliative Care has been proven to benefit patients in many ways.  Studies of patients who have cancer and early Palliative Care involvement report:

  • Better understanding of their disease and prognosis
  • Better control over decision-making
  • Greater patient satisfaction with care plan and their providers
  • Improved QOL
  • Get treatments that are more aligned with their wishes
  • Less depression and anxiety
Who might need Palliative Care?

Any patient with chronic life limiting illness may benefit from palliative care.  Some but not all include patients with the following diseases:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Renal disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease


How do I know if palliative care is right for me?

Palliative care may be right for you if you are experiencing pain, stress and other symptoms due to a serious illness. Serious illnesses include but are not limited to: cancer, cardiac disease, respiratory disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis. Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness and you can get it along with treatment meant to cure you

What’s the difference between Hospice and Palliative Care?

Hospice is a type of Palliative Care. It is Palliative Care that is focused on those people who have a prognosis of 6 months or less. Non hospice Palliative Care differs in that it can occur alongside aggressive treatments.  For example, Palliative Care can occur while receiving curative treatments for cancer.

What’s the difference between Palliative Care and regular care?

Traditional medicine is focused on prevention, cure or treatment. Palliative Care is first focused on the comfort and wishes of the patient. In Palliative Care, the focus is on ensuring, that their physical, emotional and spiritual symptoms are addressed and that patients are informed as much as they want to be about their illness, including prognosis and treatment options. It adds that extra support that a patient with a chronic life limiting illness often needs.

Who else, besides the patient, can benefit?

Everyone involved! Patients as well as family caregivers are the special focus of palliative care. Your doctors and nurses benefit too, because they know they are meeting your needs by providing care and treatment that reduces your suffering and improves your quality of life.

Do you still have questions?

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