Palliative care is a way to improve quality of life for someone who's being treated for a serious illness. To palliate means to ease the symptoms of an illness. These may include pain, upset stomach (nausea), vomiting, anxiety, constipation, sleeping, and breathing problems. The people who are being treated and their loved ones are given emotional and spiritual support. Palliative care is given at the same time as traditional medical care. Active treatment for the illness doesn't stop.
Working with your palliative care team
Palliative care is given by a team of people who focus on the physical, emotional, and psychosocial aspects of advanced illness. The team may include a palliative care provider or nurse, social worker, pharmacist, dietitian, counselor, spiritual advisor, and others. To get the most of palliative care, both the person and their loved ones have a role.
What a person who is receiving medical treatment can do
Tell your healthcare provider you're thinking about palliative care. Ask what palliative services are available in your area.
To ensure the best care, learn what you can about your illness and the goals of your care. If you're having pain and other symptoms due to a serious illness, ask your healthcare provider for a palliative care referral.
Treating these symptoms is best for your health and quality of life. If you need support in other ways, speak up. The care team is there to help you get what you need.
What a family member can do
Talk with the palliative care team often. Do your best to understand your loved one’s illness and goals of care. When decisions need to be made, act on your loved one’s wishes. And if you have a concern or question, speak up. You can help the team make sure that your loved one has the best quality of life possible.