Senior Care Blog

Myths About Palliative Care

By blogger, Troy Diffenderfer

Hi, Fellow Community Members!

This week, Troy Diffenderfer of guest blogs for us and shares with our community myths about palliative care.

- Jonathan

Palliative Care Myths | | Senior Care Blog | Home Helpers of Bradenton FL

The words “palliative care” can often bring about hushed tones and a somber mood, because many people automatically think of death. While palliative care does deal with those suffering from terminal illness, this does not mean that palliative care is a place for those suffering from illness to be “put out to pasture.” When it comes to death and the process of passing peacefully, many often hold a very narrow and often inaccurate opinion of palliative care. Therefore, we’ve decided to debunk a few myths about palliative care. Palliative care helps thousands of people every year in the U.S. so it’s important to make sure that you’re making an informed decision when the time comes.

Four Myths About Palliative Care

It’s Just About Pain Relief

One of the biggest myths about palliative care is that its sole purpose is to make the transition into death as painless as possible. While it is true that palliative care providers want you to be comfortable, pain relief is not the only thing they care about.  Just as frequently, palliative care is used to help manage symptoms other than pain that result from a serious illness or its treatment. These symptoms include nausea, breathlessness, dizziness, and a handful of other ailments. Another major misconception that many have about palliative care is that their loved one will be pumped full of morphine during their stay. While morphine may work in some cases, with proper pain assessment, the Palliative Medicine Specialist can use a combination of medicine to provide the best pain relief with minimal side effects.

Palliative Care is the Same As Hospice Care

Palliative care is often confused with hospice care. This confusion stems not only from the patients and families; it also comes from seasoned healthcare providers. This is partly because palliative care is a relatively new practice with its roots in hospice. While hospice care offers the basic necessities that go into having a peaceful death, palliative care puts together a team of physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to not only ease patients into the final stage in life, but to achieve health goals as well as help them come to terms with the idea of dying. From its inception, palliative care has definitely always involved nurses. But by today’s standard there is much more to it than that. For example, it can be a nurse assisting a person with showering, or a doctor diagnosing other ailments that might cause your loved one pain and/or discomfort.  For most patients, palliative care will include consultation with a specialist palliative care doctor who has undergone additional medical training to become an expert in managing and treating the concerns that commonly arise from serious illness.

You May No Longer Receive Aggressive Treatments

When other treatments aren’t finding success, many will opt to try new, and often aggressive forms of treatment. Many assume that once you decide to transition to palliative care, you will essentially be giving up on combatting your ailment. However, the best outcome for patients is when they receive palliative care upon diagnosis of a serious illness while pursuing a cure. Palliative care doesn’t signal that a person has given up hope for a recovery; but instead gives them the safety net of comfort as they attempt to explore all possible options. The goal of palliative care is to ease pain while they pursue a possible cure.

It’s Only Offered In Hospitals

Similar to hospice care, there are specially designed facilities that will offer palliative care in a relaxed and comfortable setting. Or, another possibility is to simply see a doctor and staff that specialize in palliative care. Just like you’d go to a cardiologist for your heart, you can make an appointment to visit a palliative care specialist. You will find that workers in palliative care rejoice in the opportunities they are given to form close relationships with their patients, families and each other. Many nurses will say, ‘This is why I chose to train as a nurse.They recognize the patience, courage and love that they work to engender and which they experience with dying individuals and grieving family members.


If you’re still looking for more information on palliative care, and other forms of home care, check out the resource section at