Resource Guide for Family Caregivers
Palliative care and end of life

The question that often arises is whether palliative care is appropriate and available for older persons who are dying "of natural causes", i.e., old age. Hospice or palliative care programs typically are not involved in care at the end of life for elders dying of natural causes. However, hospice and palliative care programs do typically have an educational role with other health providers about the theory and practice of palliation. If this is something you think may benefit the person you are caring for, contact the Victoria Hospice Society - or your nearest doctor, clergy or other relevant resource - and find out how best to obtain this help. This aspect of care at the end of life is important if quality of life is to be maintained.

Palliation refers to the use of one or more specific (medical) interventions or treatments to bring about the relief of certain symptoms.

When we speak of quality of life we are actually looking at a complex field. Here are a couple of the factors that influence quality of life for people with terminal medical conditions.

  • When we look at physical and emotional symptoms, we want to be able to manage them so that a person is comfortable in body, mind and spirit.
  • When we look at function and autonomy, we want to help people maintain control over their lives and decision-making power.