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Defining Complex Illness Management

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with serious illnesses. It is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms and stresses of a serious illness - whatever the diagnosis - and is provided together with all other medical treatments. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and their family.

Palliative care is provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, chaplains and social workers who work with a patient's other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. The team helps relieve symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, difficulty sleeping, depression and anxiety. They also help patients better understand their medical condition and their choices for medical care.

Palliative care may be right for you if you suffer from pain, stress or other symptoms due to a serious illness. Serious illnesses may include heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis and many other conditions. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any point in a serious illness, including at the time of diagnosis.