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Doctors' Notes: Palliative care benefits both patients and families

It’s common to see palliative care as a last resort, says Dr. Helen Senderovich – but research shows it offers the most benefit when started soon after the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness and alongside medical treatment.

“I chose this specialty because the ability to help patients feel comfortable in their last days and provide support to their loved ones is one of the most fulfilling contributions I can make to enrich their lives,” says Senderovich, an assistant professor in the department of family and community medicine, division of palliative care.

But more needs to be done to ensure all Canadians have access to this type of care, Senderovich says.

Writing in this week’s edition of Doctors’ Notes, The Toronto Star’s weekly column created by medical experts from the University of Toronto, Senderovich, a physician focused on geriatrics, palliative care and pain medicine at Baycrest Health Sciences, says it’s “an honour and a privilege” to work in this field.

“The demand for palliative care continues to grow as baby boomers age,” Senderovich writes. “It has been shown to not only benefit patients but caregivers as well, by lessening their stress and helping with grief and mourning. 

“Even when patients are suffering from chronic illnesses they can still maintain their quality of life at any age and at any stage of a serious illness.”

Read the complete column in Doctors' Notes