a stethascope with the words "palliative care" spelled out

The ABCs of Palliative TLC

Palliative care is a form of specialized medical care that focuses on improving the quality of life for patients with a serious illness and their families.

“The goal is to work together with the patient and family to offer relief from symptoms and guidance with making medical decisions, as well as to provide education, advance care planning and emotional support during what is a very trying time,” says Dr. Emese Somogyi, a hospice and palliative medicine specialist with Pali Momi Medical Center.

“Palliative care is a team approach to treating suffering from serious, potentially life-limiting disease,” Somogyi explains.

The palliative care team involves specially trained doctors, nurses and other specialists – social workers, case managers, pharmacists, chaplains – whose main focus is providing an extra layer of support to patients and families.

“We will work to understand who you are and what is important to you and your family,” Somogyi says.

The goals of treatment are to target pain, symptoms and stress caused by chronic illness, which can include but isn’t limited to:

  • Cancer.
  • Congestive heart failure.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Alzheimer’s disease.

“We also look to improve the patients’ and families’ understanding of their medical treatments,” Somogyi says. “This helps them make better decisions, tolerate medical treatments, and can help them feel more in control of their situation.”

Palliative care is appropriate for patients of any age and at any stage of a serious illness. It may be started at any point during treatment and may be provided at the same time as curative treatments.

“Palliative care is a partnership between patient, family and providers to help you navigate through potential challenges and transitions,” Somogyi says. “Palliative care helps people live as well as they can for as long as they can.”

To learn more, talk with your attending physician or click here.

agingcaregivingdeathpalliative care