Palliative care is a type of medicine that focuses on the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual needs of people who have a serious illness, including cancer, end-stage respiratory disease, and end-stage organ failure. Palliative care relieves suffering, helps improve people's tolerance for curative treatment, eases transitions when curative treatment is no longer an option and improves the quality of life for patients and their families. Palliative care addresses the discomforts caused by symptoms of disease and side-effects of treatment, the goals of care, and the hopes of patients and family members.
At National Jewish Health, people with cancer receive palliative care from the time of diagnosis. Palliative care supports people through the rigors of cancer treatment and the experience of survivorship. National Jewish Health patients with other diagnoses receive palliative care at any stage of treatment. Palliative care resources at National Jewish Health include board-certified hospice and palliative care providers, social workers, and clinical dieticians.
How Palliative Care Can Help You
Palliative care aims to improve your:
Physical Comfort: Pain, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, constipation and insomnia can decrease your quality of life. Managing these and other symptoms can improve your physical well-being, functional status and ability to continue treatment.
Emotional Comfort: Living with a serious illness can be a source of anxiety, frustration, grief, loss and depression. Finding peace of mind can help make the challenges of your disease and its treatment easier to tolerate. Working with a psychiatrist and participating in support groups can offer outlets for emotional support.
Social Comfort: Changes in your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues can be a source of distress. Offering support and facilitating conversations with family and friends can relieve some of the isolation and help those important to you understand what is happening to you.
Intellectual Comfort: Open discussion about your disease and its treatment can help you gain insight into the meaning of your disease and its role in your life.
Spiritual Comfort: Identifying resources in your faith tradition can help provide additional sources of support.
Advance Care Planning: Assistance with preparing or updating your advance directive, including identifying your surrogate decision-maker, can give you a sense of control over your disease.
Access to Community Resources: Making referrals to outside resources, including home physical and occupational therapy, home palliative care, and hospice services at home or facilities, can expand your treatment team to include resources you may need outside of National Jewish Health.