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What is a brief summary of palliative care?

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Quick Answer

Palliative care is designed to support an individual with life-threatening illness cope physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, according to MedlinePlus. It is designed to enhance a person's overall quality of life from the time of diagnosis onward and may be utilized along with curative treatment.

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Palliative care is distinct from hospice care, explains Angela Morrow, R.N. for About.com. Hospice care is a type of palliative care available to those in the last six months of their lives. When curative therapies are no longer effective or when a patient chooses to end them, hospice becomes an option. By contrast, palliative can be utilized at any time.

Palliative care often takes a team approach to care, notes WebMD. In addition to the patient and her family, palliative care teams may include doctors, nurses, chaplains and pharmacists. Social workers, dietitians, physical and occupational therapists and volunteers may also be part of the team. Palliative care may be offered in the home, through cancer centers, in hospitals, nursing homes or in a doctor's office.

Palliative care is often associated with people who are undergoing treatment for cancer, but anyone with a serious illness can benefit from it, reminds Angela Morrow, R.N. Heart, liver or kidney disease and severe respiratory disease are example of conditions that can benefit from the palliative care treatment model.

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