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Frequently Asked Questions About Palliative Care

How does palliative care differ from hospice?
The primary difference between hospice and palliative care is that hospice care is provided during the last months of life. Palliative care can begin at any stage of a serious, life-altering illness and is intended to occur simultaneously with treatment that has a goal of curing or recovering. Palliative care can:

  • Help you live better with your illness
  • Manage symptoms of your illness and side effects of aggressive, curative treatment
  • Find ways to handle the day-to-day challenges related to your illness.

With good symptom management, palliative care can help shift the medical approach from crisis intervention to crisis prevention, which—in part—can help you to avoid an emergency hospitalization.

Who can request a palliative care consultation?
Anyone can request a consultation in palliative care, but often your doctor will start the conversation and make the recommendation. If palliative care is requested by a patient or family, our specialists will first confer with the attending doctor to determine if a consultation is an appropriate next step. If you or a loved one can benefit from palliative care, you are encouraged to discuss with your doctor, or you can call Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter at 847.467.7423 to schedule a consultation.

How do palliative medicine specialists work with my doctor and other healthcare professionals?
After an initial consultation with the patient and family members, palliative medicine specialists will meet with your doctor and other specialists to discuss recommendations that meet your specific needs. Throughout your hospital stay, our specialists will communicate regularly with your doctor, as palliative care is intended to occur simultaneously with your doctor’s treatment care plan. When it’s time to go home or to another medical facility, we’ll work with you and your doctor to coordinate follow-up care and continue palliative care services as necessary.

When is the best time to request a palliative care consultation?
Consultations in palliative care are provided at any stage of a serious illness or diagnosis, but earlier interventions can help patients experience the benefits more quickly. Palliative care is appropriate from the time of receiving a diagnosis and ideally spans a period of months to years. Palliative care is delivered alongside treatments that are meant to cure your disease or help you recover. Supporting you and your family—regardless of the stage of the illness or treatment—can more effectively allow you to live well, regardless of the diagnosis.

Is a palliative care consultation only for a cancer diagnosis?
Palliative care is for anyone facing a complex or serious health issue, whether you expect full recovery, experience progressive loss of functioning (aging or a chronic condition) or have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Palliative care has benefited many patients facing a variety of serious medical conditions, such as cancer; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); kidney failure; Alzheimer's; cardiac disease such as congestive heart failure (CHF); and HIV/AIDS.

What can I expect from palliative care services?
The goal of palliative care is to enhance your quality of life as you face a serious and potentially life-limiting illness. Using a multidisciplinary team approach, it is designed to provide relief from pain and discomfort, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. A consultation with palliative medicine specialists will help you:

  • Clarify your goals for care
  • Make informed medical decisions and choose treatments that align with your goals
  • Determine how to increase your comfort level (such as using medication to prevent or treat pain; knowing what you can do to reduce nausea or fatigue)
  • Connect with any support services you need for emotional and spiritual concerns

How are family members involved in a palliative care consultation?
The palliative care team works with you and your family to help reduce anxiety and stress, bring clarity to the situation, and help facilitate difficult conversations. Our team will listen carefully to and respect your goals, preferences, and choices, with sensitivity to religious and cultural preferences. We make sure family members are involved and receive support through the course of a loved one’s illness, because we know the health and well-being of the family or caregiver can help improve a patient’s quality of life, too.

If you think palliative care might be right for you or your loved one, please discuss with your doctor. Or call Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter at 847.467.7423 to schedule a consultation.

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Last Updated 04/10/2009