Compassionate Care Consulting

Answers to Your Care Questions

Palliative Care FAQs

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. A serious illness may be an acute illness such as cancer but is more often a chronic illness where cure is not possible. Examples of serious illness include cancer, heart failure, emphysema, chronic kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and neurologic conditions such as ALS, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. 

Isn’t it too soon to start palliative care? Afterall, I’m not dying!

People panic when they hear “palliative care” and think it means they are dying. Palliative care is not the same as end-of-life care. The goal is to help people live as well as possible for as long as possible and should be part of the treatment plan from the time of diagnosis of a serious illness or change in condition. Palliative care also helps during times of transitions, such as discharge from the hospital or on completion of treatment.

Palliative care helps people of any age and at any stage in a serious illness, whether the illness is curable, chronic, or life-threatening.

What does a palliative care doctor do that’s different from what other doctors do?

Your other doctors focus on your general health or on managing a specific organ system, such as the cardiovascular system (cardiology), the nervous system (neurology), or the gastrointestinal tract (gastroenterology). Palliative care doctors are specialists who concentrate on preventing and alleviating suffering, improving quality of life, and helping patients and families cope with the stress and burden of illness.

Shouldn’t all of my doctors be concerned with alleviating suffering and improving quality of life?

Yes; however, palliative medicine doctors have special training and expertise in pain management and symptom control and specialize in helping patients and their families cope with the many burdens of illness, from side effects of medical treatment to caregiver stress to fears about the future. Palliative care doctors can also give guidance with difficult medical decisions, helping with weighing the benefits and burdens of various treatments.

If I agree to palliative care, does that mean I’m “giving up?”

Not at all! The goal of palliative care is to help people achieve the best possible quality of life while living with a serious illness. You can have palliative care while you are undergoing treatments that may cure or reverse the effects of an illness such as chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and other medical procedures. In fact, palliative care can help ease the burdens of aggressive treatments by getting pain and other symptoms under control.

Do people recover from palliative care?

Yes. Palliative care may actually help you recover from a serious illness and improve how you feel by relieving pain and other symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, and loss of appetite.

What’s the difference between palliative care and hospice care?

Palliative care is whole-person care that relieves symptoms of diseases or disorders whether or not they can be cured. Hospice is a specific type of palliative care for people who likely have 6 months or less to live. In other words, hospice care is always palliative care, but not all palliative care is hospice care.

How do I know that I’m receiving the most beneficial and appropriate treatment?

Palliative care doctors are concerned about you as a whole person – not just the part of you that is sick. They understand that people with serious illnesses can be frightened and unsure of themselves when making medical decisions, and that there is not always one right or wrong answer and that your needs and preferences may change over time.

If I receive palliative care, will I still be able to see my personal doctor?

Absolutely! Palliative care adds an additional layer of support by collaborating with you and your other doctors and by helping you navigate complex healthcare systems.

How do I get palliative care?

Call Palliative Care Consult at 520.771.2686 to discuss any care question you have that wasn’t answered in our Palliative Care FAQs.

Palliative Care FAQs | Palliative Care Consult | Tucson AZ

Patient Resources

Conversations about the future can be daunting. Conversations about the future when you have a serious illness is even more difficult.

Here are some downloadable examples for advanced care planning to help you get the conversation started.

Palliative Care FAQs.

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We like to think that we will always be healthy and able to make decisions for ourselves, but one minute you are a normal person with normal problems and the next you are a person with a serious illness.

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