What is palliative care?

Palliative treatment is specialized medical care that aims to provide relief from the symptoms of chronic illness such as pain, discomfort, fatigue, and other side effects that come along with treatments and medications for chronic illness. It is important to understand what palliative care is not – it is not hospice care. Palliative services are very different from hospice care in that you can receive care while still pursuing a cure and/or treatment of any kind. Palliative care is about maintaining quality of life. The aim of palliative care is neither to hasten nor postpone death. Rather, the focus is on living as well as possible, for as long as possible.

Who can benefit from palliative care?

Palliative care is for people of any age who have a serious illness that cannot be cured. This includes people with dementia, cancer motor neuron disease or other neurological conditions, or end-stage kidney, heart or lung disease. Some people may benefit from receiving palliative care services from the time they are diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. Others may find comfort in just connecting with a palliative care service during the early stages of their illness, so they know services will be available when they are required. If their health stabilizes or improves, then palliative care services can be stopped and accessed again later if required.

What is the goal of palliative care?

The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

When is palliative care appropriate?

Palliative care is available at any stage of the disease no matter the diagnosis and can be combined with aggressive treatments. Palliative experts can work with you to manage pain, symptoms and side-effects while your doctors focus on treatment.

What types of illnesses is palliative care appropriate for?

Palliative care is appropriate for any illness that causes long-term pain and discomfort and/or for a chronic condition that causes periodic symptoms.

What types of symptoms is palliative care appropriate for?

Some examples of common symptoms for which people seek palliative treatment include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Delirium
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional and/or spiritual distress

What does palliative care treatment involve?

Palliative care entails prescribing medications and recommending therapies and resources to help patients get everything they need to deal with a chronic or life-limiting illness. The palliative care team typically consists of a palliative care physician, nurse practitioner, and medical social worker.

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Do you have a friend, family member, relative, or colleague who can benefit from our services? Send us a referral today.


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a caregiver and a senior woman smiling at each other