Palliative care is focused on quality of life

Palliative (PAL-ee-uh-tiv) care is medical care designed for people with serious health conditions.

It’s focused on relieving pain, stress, and other disease symptoms. And the #1 goal is to improve quality of life for patients and family.

We explain how it’s different from hospice care, how seniors and caregivers benefit, what health conditions it’s often used for, and where to find a palliative care doctor.

Palliative care vs hospice care: they’re not the same thing

palliative care

Palliative care is often confused with hospice care – but they’re different.

Palliative care is used during any stage of a serious illness.

Hospice care is for patients who are ill enough for a doctor to certify that they may not live beyond 6 months. (Hospice isn’t a death sentence though, get the facts here.)

Palliative care benefits for seniors and family

Older adults are often dealing with a variety of aches, pains, and discomforts in addition to any serious health conditions.

On top of that, medical treatments to cure or reverse health conditions can affect older bodies more harshly and are more likely to cause significant side effects.

Palliative doctors are specialists with extra training and experience in pain management and symptom control.

They help seniors and family caregivers cope with the side effects of medical treatments, fears, and caregiver stress. That’s a big plus – family caregivers get additional support.

Another significant benefit of palliative care is that these doctors can help families make difficult medical decisions.

They’ll take the time to discuss pros and cons of various treatment options, answer questions, and address concerns. Without that expert guidance, it can be even more stressful to make tough medical decisions.

What symptoms does palliative care relieve?

By relieving symptoms, palliative care often improves someone’s ability to tolerate medical treatments and their ability to recover.

It also gives seniors and caregivers more control because they have a better understanding of treatment choices.

Palliative care focuses on relieving symptoms like:

  • Pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Depression

What types of illnesses are palliative care used for?

Palliative care is helpful for people with any serious or chronic illness.

Common conditions include: