Palliative care is an added layer of support to help you and your loved ones live with a serious illness.

With palliative care, you can get physical, emotional, and spiritual support.

You can get help to relieve pain, fatigue, anxiety, shortness of breath, nausea, and depression. This helps you learn what to expect from your illness and decide on a treatment plan. Sometimes your health care provider can provide palliative support. Other times a trained palliative care team works with you and your health care provider to provide specialist care and the services you need.

Palliative care can help you at any stage of a serious illness.

Examples include congestive heart failure, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, and cancer. Health care providers often wait too long or they simply don’t refer patients for added palliative care supports. Many patients who are seriously ill miss out on the benefits of palliative care.

Palliative care is a big help when you are seriously ill.

Palliative care improves your quality of life and may help you live longer.

In a study of people with advanced cancer, those who got palliative care early reported better control of pain and other symptoms. People who got palliative care had a better quality of life and less depression. They also lived longer and spent less time in the hospital than those receiving only standard treatments.

Studies suggest that there are similar benefits for people with other serious illnesses.

Palliative care is not “end-of-life” care or hospice.

Palliative care can be useful no matter how long you are expected to live. You don’t have to give up other treatments for your illness.

Start palliative care early for best results.

Palliative care is most helpful if you start it early during a serious illness. You should request it, no need to wait for your health care provider to bring it up. It will affect your quality of care and treatment decisions.

For more information and support on palliative and end-of-life care, loss and grief, visit:

Don’t wait until you are sick to start advance care planning conversations.

Advance care planning helps you think about, talk about and document wishes for health care in the event that you become incapable of consenting to or refusing medical treatments or other care.

Choose a loved one, family member or friend to communicate your wishes for you, should you become too unwell to make decisions for yourself. Talking to that person as well as your health care provider and the rest of your family will help ensure your wishes are known and will help your loved ones make treatment decisions on your behalf.

Put your plans in writing.

Some people and their health care providers put off talking about their wishes and values for health care. This puts you at risk of being too ill to guide your health care providers and may increase the uncertainty and burden that your loved ones feel.

Start today with information from Advance Care Planning Canada.