Learn what to expect with this care approach that offers symptom relief for seriously ill people of any age.
Palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on providing relief from pain and other symptoms of a serious illness. It also can help you cope with side effects from medical treatments. The availability of palliative care does not depend on whether your condition can be cured.
Palliative care teams aim to provide comfort and improve quality of life for people and their families. This form of care is offered alongside other treatments a person may be receiving.
Palliative care is provided by a team of health care providers, including doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains and other trained specialists. The team works with you, your family and your other providers to add an extra layer of support and relief that complements your ongoing care.
Palliative care may be offered to people of any age who have a serious or life-threatening illness. It can help adults and children living with illnesses such as:
Symptoms that may be improved by palliative care include:
Here's some information to help you get ready for your first consultation appointment.
Palliative care can be part of your treatment plan at any stage of a serious illness. You may consider palliative care when you have questions about:
Your first meeting may take place while you're in the hospital or in an outpatient clinic. Research suggests that early use of palliative care services can:
Your palliative care team will talk with you about your symptoms and current treatments. The team may discuss how this illness is affecting you and your family. You and your palliative care team make a plan to prevent and ease suffering and improve your daily life. This plan will be carried out in coordination with your primary care team in a way that works well with any other treatment you're receiving.
Your palliative care plan is designed to fit your life and needs. It may include elements such as:
Support and advice. Palliative care services include support for the many difficult situations and decisions you and your family make when you're facing a serious illness.
You and your family may talk with a palliative care social worker, chaplain or other team member about stress, spiritual questions, financial concerns or how your family will cope if a loved one dies. The palliative care specialists may offer guidance or connect you with community resources.
Your palliative care team collaborates with your health care providers to ensure your care is well coordinated.