Dealing with a serious or life-threatening illness and its symptoms is very difficult. Palliative care is a medical specialty that focuses on how serious illness affects an individual, as well as their family.
Relief of symptoms can be given at the same time other medical treatments are provided. The goals of palliative care are to relieve pain and symptoms and improve quality of life. Palliative care is not the same as hospice care, which focuses on caring for someone who is dying.
Palliative Care provides:
- Treatment of symptoms including pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, numbness and problems with sleep.
- Assisting family with decisions by providing better understanding of a patient’s medical conditions and choices for medical care.
- Coordination of care among all health care providers
- Emotional and spiritual support for patient and family
- Assistance with discharge from the hospital by helping with referrals for care at home or another setting
- If death is near, palliative care can help with strengthening relationships and creating special memories
Palliative care can occur at the same time as all other treatments. Pain and other symptoms affect quality of life, and the stress can have a big impact on family members.
Unlike hospice care, which is meant for people in the final months of life, palliative care does not depend on whether or not a condition can be cured. The goal is to make a patient as comfortable as possible and improve quality of life.