May 2nd, 2012 at 10:22 am
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Palliative care eases elders’ discomfort from serious illnesses

by Dorian Martin

I first heard the term “palliative care” when my brother was caring for his wife, who had lung cancer. My brother thought that this type of care was very beneficial for his wife during her final days so I thought it would be helpful to learn more and share it with you.

So what is palliative care? According to, this type of care “is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness — whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.”

Palliative care can ease the suffering of people with chronic and serious diseases such as kidney failure, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), HIV/AIDS, heart disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). MedlinePlus, which is a service of the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, noted that palliative care is always part of hospice care at the end of life; however, palliative care also can be delivered during any stage of the disease.

Palliative care offers support services

Palliative care utilizes a team approach that coordinates the efforts of the doctor, family, other health care professionals and social service providers. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), palliative care provides three primary support services to the patient:

  • Pain management. The health care professionals and families work together to identify the source of the pain and then treat the issue with drugs or other therapies in order to comfort the patient.
  • Symptom management. This service assists with symptoms such as nausea, weakness, mental confusion, bowel and bladder issues, fatigue and breathing difficulties.
  • Emotional and spiritual support.

Additionally, palliative care also provides support to caregivers through five types of services, according to the JAMA. These services include the following:

  • Education. Health care professionals can provide information about the patient’s health issues and offer advice on care and symptom management.
  • Home support services. These services can include assistance with transportation, shopping and meal preparation.
  • Respite care. This support provides caregivers with relief and time away from caregiving.
  • Financial planning. Palliative care support services can assist with developing a financial plan to deal with the economic strain of caregiving.
  • A support network.

If you have a loved one who has a serious disease, please check with your doctor about palliative care options.

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One Response to “Palliative care eases elders’ discomfort from serious illnesses”

  1. Palliative care can be extremely helpful for those suffering from a disease and those who care for them. A palliative team recognizes that friends and family are also affected by the illness and that everyone’s daily life is altered when a life-limiting illness enters the picture. Relieving stress is also part of the palliative care package. is a good resource to find a nearby provider.

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