Palliative care is a philosophy and practice of care designed to provide specialized comfort and support for individuals of all ages with a life-threatening illness. The related word “palliate” means “to relieve symptoms of pain and suffering.”

Likely diagnoses might include cancer, heart disease, kidney failure, respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis and others. Palliative care might also be appropriate for anyone who has had multiple hospitalizations or Emergency Department visits over the previous year.

Palliative Care:

  • Is an approach to care that is foremost patient-centered and addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the patient within the context of family and community
  • Uses a team approach to caring for a patient and his or her family with attention to the physical, spiritual, psychosocial and emotional aspects of living with a life-threatening condition
  • Can be provided from the point of diagnosis of a life-threatening, chronic or terminal illness—not just in the last six months of a person’s life
  • May be provided in a home setting, outpatient clinic, or in a care facility setting.
  • Provides expert pain and symptom management
  • Encourages advance care planning, including advance directives, through ongoing discussion among providers, patient and family
  • Allows cure-oriented treatment, such as chemotherapy, to continue
  • May be covered through private insurance, Medicaid or the Medicare Home Care Benefit.
  • Requires a referral from your doctor