Palliative care specializes in relieving the symptoms and stress of serious illness. Symptoms may be physical, emotional, or spiritual. The goal is to improve quality of life for you and your family. Palliative care may be appropriate at any point in an illness, from diagnosis on, and it can be provided at the same time as treatment that is meant to cure you.
Working in partnership with your primary doctor, the palliative care team can provide:
- recommendations for treatment of pain and other symptoms that are not responding to usual therapies
- clear communication between you and your family
- help in navigating the healthcare system
- opportunities for extended discussions about goals and options
- practical information about community resources
- emotional and spiritual support for you and your family
Palliative care consultations can be done in your own home, in an assisted living facility, nursing home, or hospital.
Why does it make a difference?
Palliative care programs have been shown to be an effective addition to the overall care for serious illness, reducing pain and other distressing symptoms. The programs also increase patient and family satisfaction with their care and make transitions between hospitals and other care settings easier.
Palliative care is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Individuals have a range of diseases and respond differently to treatments. A key benefit of palliative care is that it is customized to meet your needs.
How can it make me feel better?
The goal of palliative care is to relieve your physical symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping, thus helping you gain the strength to carry on with daily life and improving your ability to tolerate medical treatments. It can also help you to understand your options for care and to clarify your goals and wishes.
Who benefits from palliative care?
Many patients need palliative care. With advances in treatment options, people are living longer with chronic illnesses and need relief of symptoms so that they can enjoy a good quality of life for as long as possible. Because care for serious illness often involves multiple physicians, these patients may also need help to coordinate their care.