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If your loved one is dealing with a serious illness, palliative care might just be the thing they need. Many have not heard of palliative care or are unsure about its benefits though.

According to Michael Doring Connelly, author and former CEO of Mercy Health, “Elder patients should have palliative care consults before aggressive end-of-life treatments.”

What Exactly is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a form of medical care that uses a holistic approach at relieving the symptoms and side effects associated with a serious illness while improving a person’s quality of life. A specialized team of medical and allied health professionals work together to focus on the individual’s physical, emotional, practical, and spiritual needs…not the individual’s diagnosis.

Palliative care is not restricted to people receiving end-of-life care. It can begin at any time during an illness, lasting days or even years, and be provided along with curative treatments.

What are the Benefits?

Starting palliative care early can help ensure that the patients’ wishes are met, increase their confidence in decision-making, address emotional and spiritual needs, and decrease stress. The care team can also help make transitions between care settings smoother, such as when a patient moves from the hospital to either a rehab center or his/her own home.

Palliative care programs can help reduce unneeded hospital stays and ER visits due to improved symptom management. Additionally, better care coordination can drive overall costs down.

Start the Conversation.

In Connelly’s book The Journey’s End, he stresses the importance of “helping patients understand that they need to assume responsibility for creating their own end-of-life care plan.” He adds, “The ideal place to start these conversations is during a primary care physician office visit…[patients] can make better choices by being informed about their various care options.”

It’s never too early to start the palliative care conversation, but don’t worry, it’s never too late either.

Bottom Line.

The aim of palliative care is to make the patient and their family’s life better, irrespective of life expectancy. Ultimately, the most importance person on the care team is the patient. To receive palliative care, you might need to ask your doctor for a referral. This is required for patients in the hospital, at home, or in a long-term care facility. Be proactive!

Lastly, if you want more information, or you want to find palliative care in your area, visit

Thank you Angela Morrow, RN and Michael Doring Connelly for this content!


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