What is palliative care?
It is hard to live with a serious illness. You may
feel lonely, angry, scared, or sad. You may feel that your treatment is doing
more harm than good. You may have pain or other disturbing symptoms.
Palliative care can help you and your loved ones cope
with all of these things.
Palliative care is a kind of care for people who have serious illnesses. It is different from care to
cure your illness, called curative treatment. Palliative care focuses on
improving your quality of life—not just in your body, but also in your mind and
spirit. Sometimes palliative care is combined with curative treatment.
The kind of care you get depends on what you need. Your goals
guide your care. Palliative care can help reduce pain or treatment side
effects. Palliative care may help you and your loved ones better understand
your illness, talk more openly about your feelings, or decide what treatment
you want or do not want. It can also help with communication among your doctors, nurses, and loved ones.
Why would I want palliative care?
Palliative care providers are interested in what is bothering you
and what is important to you. They want to know how you and your loved ones are
doing day-to-day. They understand that your illness affects not just you, but
also those you love.
Your palliative care providers will ask questions about how your
illness affects your emotions and spirit. Then they will try to make sure that
your medical care meets your goals for your body, mind, and spirit. They will
also help you make future plans around your health and medical care.
You might see a palliative care provider just once or maybe more
often. He or she will work with your other doctors to give you the best care
Who is involved in palliative care?
Palliative care actively involves you and your loved ones.
Together you will work with health care providers in your doctor's office or
your home, or in a hospital, nursing home, or hospice. If you are interested in
palliative care, talk with your doctor. He or she may be able to manage your
palliative care needs or may refer you to someone who is trained in palliative
Many hospitals now have palliative care teams. These teams often
include palliative care doctors, nurses, and
social workers. The teams may also include spiritual
respiratory therapists, and volunteers.