Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness, such as liver disease. 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 provided by a team of palliative care specialists, including doctors, nurses and social workers. The team works together with your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided along with curative treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from symptoms, pain and stress — whatever the person’s age, stage of illness, diagnosis and prognosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
Palliative care is a medical specialty — like oncology or psychiatry — that is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work alongside a patient’s other doctors to offer an extra layer of support. It can be provided along with curative and life-prolonging treatment.
In short, you can expect that your quality of life will be improved. You will have relief from symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. You can also expect close communication and more control over your care.
Palliative care will help you carry on with daily life. It will improve your ability to go through medical treatments. And it will help you to match your goals to your treatment choices.
Palliative care may be right for you if you have a serious illness. Serious illnesses include but are not limited to: liver disease, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, and many more. Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness. You can also have this type of care at the same time as treatment meant to cure you.
If you’re not sure, take this quiz.
Palliative care is for anyone suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer, cardiac disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, Parkinson’s and many more. Whether aged 2 or 92, palliative care is an option when a person is experiencing pain and suffering – physically, emotionally and spiritually — from the side effects of their treatment, progression of disease, dealing with a new diagnosis or living with a long-term and life-limiting condition. Palliative care also offers support to families, whether they need help with caring for their loved one at home or social supports, such as home care and meal delivery. Members of the palliative care team can serve as resources, advocates and facilitators for any needs patients and families have — both in and out of the hospital.
A team of specialists, including palliative care doctors and nurses provide this type of care.
Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. It is provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. The goal is to improve your quality of life.
To do this, the palliative care team will:
- Relieve your symptoms and distress
- Help you better understand your disease and diagnosis
- Help clarify your treatment goals and options
- Understand and support your ability to cope with your illness
- Assist you with making medical decision
- Coordinate with your other doctors
No. The palliative care team provides an extra layer of support and works in partnership with your primary doctor.
The palliative care team will also spend time talking and listening to you and your family. They will make sure you completely 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 the 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.
Yes, absolutely. Your treatment choices are up to you. You can have palliative care at the same time as treatment meant to cure you.
You can have it at any age and any stage of an illness, but early in your illness is recommended.
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.
Most insurance plans cover all or part of palliative care, just as with other hospital and medical services. This is also true of Medicare and Medicaid.
Ask for it! You have to start by talking with your doctor or nurse.
The Center to Advance Palliative Care’s consumer website, GetPalliativeCare.org
is an excellent resource for the public about palliative care providers who are certified by the National Palliative Care Registry.
Information about hospice can be found at Caring Connections.
Palliative care is available in a number of places. More and more, palliative care is available outside of the hospital in the places where you live. You, your doctor and the palliative care team can discuss outpatient palliative care or palliative care at home. Some hospitals also offer outpatient palliative care even if you have not been in the hospital.
While a referral from your doctor is typically necessary to connect you to a palliative care specialist, here’s a place to start: the Palliative Care Provider Directory on GetPalliativeCare.org. The Provider Directory is specifically designed for you to identify and locate palliative care providers in your area, quickly and easily.
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