ZocdocAnswersDoes palliative care make sense for all conditions?

Question

Does palliative care make sense for all conditions?

My grandfather is very sick, but palliative care (ie tons of pain medication) seems to keep him completely disoriented and confused. Is this a good idea?

Answer

I am sorry to hear that your grandfather is so ill and has been requiring many medications. To answer your question, it is important to understand what palliative medicine is. During the last century, doctors began to realize that they could, to some extent, keep people alive for long periods of time even though there was essentially no hope for survival. In order to keep them alive, the patients would often be subjected to numerous procedures that could cause pain, suffering and often were of very little value in improving the quality of life; additionally, they often even did little to improve longevity. For that reason, there was a call to improve the humanistic element of medicine, and allow people to choose the circumstances under which they could pass away. Palliative medicine became the name of this movement, and it has come to be understood that the goal of palliation is to remove pain without causing more just to extend life. Once a patient is under the care of palliative medicine, in general, aggressive treatments designed to extend life give way to therapies that improve quality of life in the duration. Please speak to your doctor if you believe that these objective are not appropriate or are not being met.

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