Is Palliative Care Right for Me?

How to know if palliative care is right for me

Palliative care may be right for you if you are living with a serious illness 

A "serious illness" in the medical world means one that could limit the length of your life.  

Some examples of serious illnesses are:

  • Cancer
  • Dementia, like Alzheimers disease or Parkinson's disease
  • Heart disease, like congestive heart failure (CHF)
  • Lung disease, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Liver disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • End stage HIV/AIDS
  • End stage kidney disease 


Palliative care may not add much value to your care if you do not have a serious illness

If your illness is not likely to limit the length of your life, (you could expect to live 20 or more years with the illness), then palliative care may not be right for you.  


Palliative care may be right for you if your serious illness is causing you and/or your loved ones a lot of distress

You may find palliative care helpful if your serious illness is: 

  • Causing physical, emotional, and/or spiritual distress that is not lessening with the care you are already receiving
  • Impairing your ability (or your family's ability) to function in a meaningful way every day
  • Limiting your ability to find joy and meaning in your life
  • Changing your life or circumstances and making it harder to cope
  • Making you want to talk more about what treatment options there are for you
  • Putting a lot of stress on your caregivers
  • Causing you to go to the hospital more often, and stay more days in the hospital 


There is no "wrong time" to see a palliative care team when you're living with a serious illness 

There is no such thing as it being "too early" to meet with a palliative care team.  In fact, you can receive the most benefits from palliative care when it is started earlier on in your serious illness care.  For example, you can have more relief from unwanted symptoms, and have a better quality of life.

You can receive palliative care whenever you and your loved ones feel you need the extra holistic support to help the body, mind, and spirit.