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Q. What does a palliative doctor do that's different from what my other doctors do?

May 15, 2017 by Brenda Wright


Palliative doctors concentrate on preventing and alleviating suffering, improving your quality of life, and helping you and your loved one’s cope with the stress and burden of your illness. Your other doctors focus on your general health or treating your disease or condition. 

You can have palliative care while you are undergoing treatments that may cure or reverse the effects of your illness. In fact, palliative care can help you cope with aggressive treatments by getting your pain and symptoms under control to help you fight the disease.

It is hard to live with a serious illness. You may feel lonely, angry, scared, or sad. You may feel that your treatment is doing more harm than good. You may have pain or other disturbing symptoms. Palliative care can help you and your loved ones’ cope with all of these things.

Palliative care relieves suffering and improves quality of life for people of any age and at any stage in a serious illness, whether that illness is curable, chronic, or life-threatening. Think of palliative care as a kind of care for people who have serious illnesses.

Palliative care is often used to provide relief from the pain, symptoms and stress caused by any life-limiting illnesses such as:

  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Lung Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Advanced (late-stage) Dementia
  • ALS, Multiple Sclerosis and more

Why Would Someone Want Palliative Care?

Palliative care providers are interested in what is bothering you and what is important to you. They want to know how you and your loved ones are doing day-to-day. They understand that serious illness affects not just the one that has a serious illness, but their loved ones as well.

Palliative care may help you and your loved ones better understand your illness, talk more openly about your feelings, or decide what treatment you want or do not want. It can also help with communication among your doctors, nurses, and loved ones.

For help in finding palliative care check with your doctor who should be able to refer you to a palliative care doctor or ask your local hospital if they have or know a palliative care specialist. 

Palliative care is provided while supporting individual choices with the expressed goal of eliminating suffering and improving an individual’s quality of life – this is where a professional caregiver can assist.

How Can a Caregiver Help?

Caregivers assist the palliative care providers and work with them to develop a plan of care that is consistent with the individual’s preferences and needs. Once a plan of care is in place caregivers assist by providing personal care and assistance with other Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s). Typically these services include:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Grooming
  • Medication Reminders
  • Light Meal Preparation
  • Light Housekeeping and Laundry
  • Companionship
  • Transportation as needed for doctor’s appointments

For more assistance in locating a palliative care specialist or for temporary (or long-term) help with a loved one who is seriously ill call our office at (408) 622-0411  or contact us online

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