Palliative Care

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with a serious illness and is focused on providing relief from the symptoms, side effects from various medications, and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to focus attention on the whole person and improve the quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Requesting a palliative care consultation doesn’t necessarily mean that the patient is likely to die soon – some people receive palliative care for years as part of treatment for serious illnesses. One can have palliative care alongside treatments, therapies and medicines aimed at curing  or controlling a serious illness, such as chemotherapy. Palliative care is an excellent resource for anyone living with illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, ALS and others.

Palliative care can be helpful at any stage of illness and is best provided soon after a person is diagnosed. In addition to improving quality of life and helping with symptoms, palliative care can help patients understand their choices for medical treatment.

You do not have to be in the hospital to receive palliative care. It can be provided in nursing homes, outpatient palliative care clinics and certain other specialized clinics, or at home. Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance policies may cover palliative care. Health insurance providers can answer questions about what they will cover.

Over time, if your doctor or palliative care team believes ongoing treatment is no longer helping, there are several  possibilities. Palliative care can transition to hospice care if the person is likely to die within six months. Or, the palliative care team may continue to provide care with an increasing emphasis on “comfort care” – care to prevent or relieve suffering as much as possible and to improve quality of life.

RESOURCES:

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is the largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. The organization is committed to improving end-of-life care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for people dying in America and their loved ones.  Read more.

Get Palliative Care

Clear, comprehensive palliative care information for people coping with serious illness. Key features of the site include a Palliative Care Provider Directory, a definition of palliative care, and detailed descriptions of what palliative care does and how to get it.