Understanding Palliative Care
Palliative care is the medical specialty focused on preventing, treating and relieving the pain and other debilitating effects of serious illness. Palliative care is not limited to end of life care, and it is different from hospice care. The goal is to improve quality of life for patients and their families – whatever the prognosis. Palliative care is available along with curative treatments, even at early stages of a serious illness.
Of course, palliative care is also available to patients nearing the last months of life; for them, palliative care dovetails with hospice to provide necessary treatment and services.
Palliative care helps your primary physician ensure the kind of responsive, patient-centered care that each one of us deserves when we are at our most vulnerable. It provides relief from symptoms including pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite, problems with sleep and many other symptoms. It can also help you cope with the medical treatments you’re receiving and improve your strength to carry on with daily life.
Palliative care offers support for you and your family and can improve communication between you and your health care team. Palliative care provides:
* Closely monitored, expert treatment of your pain and other symptoms. * Open discussion and time to devote to meeting with you and your family about treatment choices, including curative options. * Coordination of your care with all of your health care providers. * Emotional support for you and your family.
Focusing on communication in addition to pain and symptom management allows the palliative care team to explore patients’ values and goals. Patients facing serious illness today can live for years. This is why palliative care is necessary for those with serious, chronic illnesses who want to remain in control of their lives and care.