Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses and chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart and lung disease, kidney failure, Alzheimer's, and other long-term health problems. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the patient's caregivers by reducing stress and managing pain and symptoms. Palliative care is provided by a specially-trained team of healthcare providers who work together with a patient's other doctors to provide an extra layer of support.
Palliative care can be started early when someone has a new diagnosis, such as cancer or another serious illness. It can also be started later in the progression of disease. The goal is to improve the quality of the patient's everyday life. Palliative care also provides support and resources to a patient's primary caregivers.
Palliative care is:
Palliative care is a team approach. The core team can include primary care providers, other specialists, palliative care doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, and social workers or behevioral health providers who are palliative care specialists. Integrative care therapists, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists, spiritual care providers, and others may also be part of a palliative care team.
Healthcare providers should help patients find palliative care specialists when palliative care might help them manage debilitating symptoms of chronic disease. Palliative care is a subspecialty reimbursable by most insurers. A palliative care specialist will help patients better manage their symptoms to improve their quality of life. The palliative care specialist is an addition to a patient's existing care team-other healthcare providers still remain involved in their current roles.
Palliative care is not just for people with terminal illnesses, but also for people with complex chronic conditions.
To explore palliative care, ask the treating doctor for a referral. Palliative care is available at:
If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, please ask your primary care provider about MOLST (Medical Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment).