Say "palliative care" and most people imagine cancer patients being made comfortable in an end-of-life hospice setting.
But palliative care is actually a new medical specialty that has recently emerged -- and no, it's not the same as hospice.
It doesn't serve only the dying. Instead, it focuses more broadly on improving life and providing comfort to people of all ages with serious, chronic, and life-threatening illnesses.
These diseases may include cancer, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, AIDS, and Alzheimer's, among others.
Palliative Care is a multidisciplinary approach to specialised medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, physical stress, and mental stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis.
The goal of such therapy is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a team of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals who work together with the primary care physician and referred specialists to provide an extra layer of support.
It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.
WHO Definition of Palliative Care
Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
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