Palliative care is specialized, comprehensive medical care for people dealing with a serious illness. While physicians focus on providing curative treatments, the palliative care team focuses on alleviating the symptoms, pain and stress of living with an illness, whether or not a cure is guaranteed. Palliative care is available at any age or at any stage of a serious illness, from patients undergoing treatment for curable illnesses to those who are nearing the end of life.
Patients who benefit from palliative care are:
- Individuals of any age including adults and children with cancer, heart failure, kidney disease, lung disease, dementia, and other serious or life-threatening conditions.
- Individuals who feel their quality of life has been compromised by symptoms such as physical or emotional pain, nausea, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, and fatigue.
- Patients who have had multiple hospitalizations or emergency room visits for an illness.
Is palliative care the same as hospice?
Palliative care is a unique medical specialty, and is not the same as hospice care. Palliative care is appropriate for any patient of any age at any point of a serious illness or medical condition, whether short-term or long-term. Palliative care can be received simultaneously with curative treatments, often managing the symptoms and side effects that these therapies can cause.
Hospice care is appropriate for the last six months of life, and for those patients no longer seeking curative treatment.