Living with Chronic Pain
What Is Palliative Care?
The goal of palliative care is to reduce suffering and improve quality of life for individuals with serious, chronic, or life-threatening illnesses, regardless of the stage of the disease or life expectancy. Individuals with cancer, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s or dementia, and many other health conditions may benefit from palliative care.
A palliative care team consists of doctors, nurses, chaplains, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and various other health care professionals to meet an individual’s needs. This team can help with pain management; stress, anxiety, or depression issues; and logistics, such as transportation to and from appointments or procurement of necessary medical devices. Team members can also help family members or caregivers, providing respite care, offering emotional support, and securing in-home help.
Palliative care can be provided at a hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility, or at home. Individuals with chronic conditions may need palliative care during some periods and not during others. In some cases, recovery from illness may occur and palliative care may no longer be needed; however, some individuals may move from palliative care to hospice or end-of-life care.
The use of palliative care early in the disease process can improve both quality of life and overall survival. It can benefit physical and mental health, including reducing the need for hospitalization. It is an important part of the care and treatment of life-altering illnesses.