“I keep hearing the word “Palliative”. What is this exactly and might it be helpful for mom?” – Joanne from Duluth

Thank you for your question!

Palliative Care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is a new “buzz” word in the healthcare community – but, has been an available type of medical care for those with serious illness for the last 10 years.  The word is derived from a Latin word meaning “to cloak” and the focus of this care is to provide patients (and their families) proper symptom management, enhanced quality of life, and patient-centered choices.

It is typically seen as an extra layer of support (or “cloak”) provided by a specialized medical team to work together with a patient’s current physicians and treatments. Palliative care is brought in to treat and relieve the unpleasant symptoms of disease such as constipation, insomnia, pain, shortness of breath, and loss of appetite within diseases such as cancer, cardiac disease, HIV/AIDS, and dementia. The goal is not to cure through palliative treatment – however, to aggressively provide comfort measures to relieve the exacerbation of symptoms.

This level of care can be provided in a variety of settings and can be associated with a number of provider types such as hospital care, home health, and hospice. Many insurance plans (such as Medicare and Medicaid) will cover palliative care and it will be important to know how the coverage varies depending on provider. If you feel this level of care would be helpful to your loved one, ask for it!

Wishing the best to you and yours!


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