Palliative care is specialized medical care focused on improving the quality of life for patients facing a life-threatening or chronic illness, and their families. These illnesses can include cancer, congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and more. A team of medical specialists identifies the illness early on and treats the patient’s pain and suffering through a variety of methods including physical, psychosocial, and spiritual. Palliative care includes:

  • using a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including grief counseling, if desired;
  • offering a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death;
  • providing relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;
  • offering a support system to help the family cope during the patient’s illness and in their own sorrow;
  • enhancing quality of life, and possibly positively influence the course of illness;
  • early intervention and treatment during the course of the illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and including those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications;
  • affirming life and, and regarding dying as a normal process;
  • intending neither to hasten or postpone death; and
  • integrating the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care.

 There are two different types of palliative care: Supportive, and Hospice. Supportive care focuses on the patient’s pain and comfort level, while also allowing other disease interventions, including attempts at cure or remission. Hospice care is for the life-ending stage of a serious illness when curative or life-prolonging therapy is no longer desired or available, or the adult patient or family member does not want to pursue it. For more information on palliative care, its types, and how to get it, follow this link or review the sources below.

[Source: Texas Health and Human Services – Palliative Care]
[Source: World Health Organization – WHO Definition of Palliative Care]
[Source: Get Palliative Care – What is Palliative Care?]