Palliative care specialists work with you and your family to foster a sense of personal control, to maintain and improve your quality of life, and relieve your suffering when you face a chronic, debilitating or life-threatening illness. The goal of palliative medicine is to help you assess, anticipate and alleviate your suffering. Mayo Clinic offers palliative care to people who are hospitalized as well as to those who have returned home after treatment for their illness, or who have transitioned to other care facilities.
Typical concerns addressed by palliative care include pain, nausea, anxiety, depression, delirium, constipation, difficulty breathing (dyspnea), fatigue and insomnia. In addition to pain management, palliative care can involve discussing your prognosis and goals of care, treatment options or diagnostic interventions, advanced care planning, and bereavement support.
Your palliative care team can include psychologists or psychiatrists, dietitians, social workers or chaplains, alongside your medical specialists.
You or your primary doctor can request palliative care services at any time while you are at Mayo Clinic for treatment. Board-certified specialists initially meet with you and your family to begin building a care plan that meets your physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Research indicates that early use of palliative care services can extend life and provide you with a better quality of life.
Palliative care services are not always available locally or through your own health care clinic. Outpatient services help you and your local doctor evaluate your needs and develop a care plan that is right for you. Mayo's outpatient service can supplement your care even if you are not being treated by a Mayo Clinic doctor.
In addition to all the disciplines and specialists represented in an adult palliative care team, pediatric palliative care programs often include child life specialists who offer developmentally appropriate education and therapeutic play activities related to the health care experience. Mayo locations in Minnesota and Arizona offer pediatric palliative care programs.