One of the strengths of palliative care is its recognition of the human side of illness. If you’ve been diagnosed with a serious disease or with a life-limiting illness, palliative care can make your life — and the lives of those who care for you — much easier. Palliative care may also be a good option if you have a serious disease that has prompted multiple hospitalizations or emergency room visits during the previous year.
If your family members also need help, palliative care can provide them emotional and spiritual support, educate them about your situation, and support them as caregivers. Some palliative programs offer home support and assistance with shopping, meal preparation, and respite care to give caregivers time off. Talk with your doctor about your needs.
Is there palliative care specifically for children?
Absolutely. Palliative care can be particularly valuable in these difficult situations. As with adults, pediatric palliative care addresses serious medical conditions, including genetic disorders, cancer, prematurity, neurologic disorders, heart and lung conditions and others. It relieves the symptoms of these diseases, such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping, anxiety and depression. In short, it helps the child and the family improve their quality of life.
Pediatric palliative care is family centered. It helps with communication and coordination of care. With the close communication that palliative care provides, families are better able to choose options that are in line with their values, beliefs, traditions, and culture. This improves the well-being of the entire family.
Palliative care is based on need, not prognosis. It is best to start palliative care as early as possible to benefit both the child and the family.
How can I find a provider of palliative care?
For specific information in your area, consult your doctor or call your local hospital or hospice. Many hospices offer palliative care programs.
Use the interactive map from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization to find a provider in your area. Another resource is the GetPalliativeCare.org website, which also has a provider directory.