What is Palliative Care?
Many people living with a serious illness experience ongoing pain and other distressing symptoms, fragmented care and enormous strain on family caregivers. Palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on relief of the symptoms and stress of serious illness. It does not replace primary medical treatment; palliative care works alongside other medical care to prevent and alleviate pain and other distressing symptoms in order to improve quality of life. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and any stage of an illness. And, it can be provided at the same time as curative treatment.
Who should receive palliative care?
Anyone with uncontrolled symptoms and chronic pain or discomfort, as a result of a serious illness, is appropriate for palliative care. Illnesses commonly treated by palliative care are heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and renal disease. You may want to consider palliative care if you or your loved one suffer from pain or other symptoms due to any serious illness, experience physical or emotional pain that is not under control and/or need help understanding your situation and coordinating your care.
Is palliative care the same as hospice?
No, palliative care and hospice are not the same. All hospice care is palliative, but not all palliative care is hospice, or for the terminally ill. Palliative care and hospice care share the same goals of comfort through pain and symptom management. However, palliative care is available to all patients and their families and is provided at any stage of a serious illness. Palliative care can also be provided with curative treatments. Hospice care is for those with a life expectancy of six months or less, and cannot be provided at the same time as curative treatment.