Your Questions Answered

What is palliative care?
Palliative care is a medical specialty focused on relief of pain and other symptoms related to serious, life-threatening illnesses or injuries. The ultimate goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for individuals and their families, so everyone can feel more comfortable and at peace.

Is palliative care the same as hospice care?
No. While hospice services focus on promoting comfort and the best quality of life for those with terminal illnesses (normally having a life expectancy of less than six months), palliative care:

  1. Optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing and treating suffering
  2. Occurs throughout the continuum of an illness (including after a serious/chronic disease has been diagnosed)
  3. Addresses physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual needs
  4. Facilitates patient autonomy, access to information and choice
  5. Is available at any stage of an illness and can be delivered in combination with curative treatments

How can palliative care help you or your loved one?
Palliative care helps individuals and their families by:

  1. Providing relief from symptoms, including pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, constipation and nausea
  2. Giving you a better understanding of your condition and your choices for medical care
  3. Respecting your dignity and individual wishes
  4. Helping you with decisions associated with setting realistic goals in dealing with an advanced, chronic or terminal illness
  5. Offering emotional and spiritual support

Who should consider palliative care?
Palliative care may benefit you or your family if:

  1. Pain is ongoing or other symptoms aren’t well controlled
  2. Hospice has been considered, but there are still questions about whether this type of care is appropriate
  3. There is confusion about the goals of treatment or management of your illness
  4. There are repeated hospital stays for the same illness
  5. The care of a loved one has become overwhelming for the family
  6. Hospital stays have not provided desired results

When should palliative care start?
You should start palliative care as soon as possible. This type of care can happen at the same time as all other treatments for your illness and does not depend on your prognosis.

Does insurance cover palliative care?
Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover palliative care services.