Palliative care (pronounced “pal-lee-uh-tiv”) is a type of medical care. It aims to improve the quality of life for people affected by a serious illness. This includes both the patient and their loved ones.

You can be at any age and any stage of any illness to receive palliative care. Palliative care provides an extra layer of support when you are sick. Providers help manage the pain, symptoms, and stress of a serious illness. Your doctor may suggest palliative care if you or your loved ones:

  • Have uncontrolled pain
  • Suffer from symptoms such as nausea, constipation, fatigue or shortness of breath
  • Have difficult negative emotions or stress related to illness
  • Need help understanding the illness or treatment options
  • Would benefit from social or spiritual support and care
  • Cannot fully take part in daily activities such as dressing or bathing
  • Need help working with your usual doctors and different medical teams

Many people do not know about palliative care. Some people mistake it for end-of-life or hospice care. It is important to know that palliative care is not the same as end-of-life or hospice care.

Unlike hospice care, you do not have to stop your treatment if you start receiving palliative care. Palliative care providers work with your usual doctors to care for you. These providers may include doctors, nurses, social workers, religious advisors, and others.

Studies show that people who receive palliative care have a better quality of life than those who do not. They have better spiritual well-being, too. They are also less likely to feel anxious or depressed.

You can receive palliative care at hospitals, clinics, or at home. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about palliative care. You can also find help in your area at