Last Updated: January 15,
Sometimes called "comfort care," the goal of palliative medicine
is to improve the quality of life for those suffering from
life-threatening or serious chronic health issues. Typically
managed separately from primary treatment, palliative care focuses
on pain relief, symptom reduction, and general physical and
spiritual comfort. Below are answers to some common questions about
What is the Difference Between Palliative Care and
care is a sub-category of palliative medicine. Hospice care is
designed for those in the end stages of terminal illness, while
palliative care is for anyone who needs help managing a major
health crisis. Choosing to receive palliative care does not mean
that you have chosen to stop curative treatment.
Which Symptoms Can Palliative Care Relieve?
Palliative care helps patients manage stress, anxiety, and
depression, as well as physical symptoms such as pain, shortness of
breath, nausea, immobility, insomnia, and chronic fatigue. Once
patients feel comfortable and functional, caregiver stress-levels
also tend to drop.
Who Typically Receives Palliative Care?
Palliative care is often part of treatment for those suffering
from diseases such as cancer, congestive heart failure, kidney
failure, stroke, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, and
many other similar conditions.
Who Provides Palliative Care?
In addition to the patient and his or her loved ones, palliative
care teams typically consist of the patient's primary doctor, a
palliative doctor, nurses, and other professionals such as
chaplains, social workers, psychologists, physical therapists, and
dieticians on an as-needed basis.
Where is Palliative Care Provided?
Most hospitals and long-term care facilities have palliative
care teams on staff. Many outpatient clinics and home health
services can also provide palliative care.
When Can I Start Palliative Care?
You can make arrangements for palliative care as soon as you
receive a diagnosis that may warrant it. You don't have to wait for
your symptoms to progress to a point of crisis.
Who Should I Talk to About Palliative Care?
The first step toward making palliative care plans is to talk to
your primary care doctor, or to the doctor who's currently
supervising your treatment. He or she can help you quickly find the
resources you need.