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Clinical Information

This section provides an overview of common symptoms and issues in palliative care. The intention is to provide linkages to current evidence based information.

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Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians aged 65 years or older and the second leading cause of death in Australia.  

This is a terminal condition as currently there is no cure. On average symptoms of dementia are noticed by families three years before a firm diagnosis is made.

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Anticipatory Medicines

Anticipatory medicines are prescribed to a person with a life limiting illness to manage symptoms such as pain, nausea and breathlessness.

Anticipatory medicines can be safely used in the home, to support the wishes of people who choose to be cared for and/or die at home.

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Anorexia and Cachexia

Anorexia/cachexia syndrome is a complex metabolic process found in many end stage illnesses. This is characterised by the loss or absence of appetite (anorexia) and muscle wasting (cachexia).

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Caregiver Support

Families play a significant role and are partners in the care of people with a life limiting illness. They provide most of the care throughout the person’s illness.

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CareSearch has trustworthy evidence based palliative care information for everybody.

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Delirium is a common and often under-recognized syndrome of symptoms with multiple causes. It is a frequent, distressing and serious complication of advanced illness.

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Diagnosing Dying

To ensure patients and families receive appropriate end-of-life care, the diagnosis of dying needs to be considered.

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End of Life Care

End of life care is an important part of palliative care. Click here to view useful resources including Essential elements for safe and high quality end-of-life care.

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Loss, and the anticipation of loss, is a hallmark of a terminal illness. 

Loss is progressive and, for many diseases, relentless. 

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Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting in palliative care are commonly experienced symptoms, the causes are often multifactorial. Management requires careful clinical evaluation of the symptom and the person suffering it, and an understanding of the clinical pharmacology of the medicines that are available for palliation.

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Palliative Sedation

Palliative sedation therapy is the intentional use of sedative medicines to relieve a patient’s suffering from uncontrolled symptoms.

Palliative sedation therapy should only be provided by palliative care specialists.

In most cases, palliative sedation therapy is reserved for imminently dying patients in the last days of life.

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Pain is one of the most common symptoms in palliative care. Pain can also be a much feared symptom which can contribute to its intensity.

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Spiritual Care

Spiritual care is an essential domain of palliative care, which focuses on the needs of the whole person and their family.

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PBS change - 1 August 2022

Changes to the PBS listing of hydromorphone oral solution is due to take effect from 1 August 2022. For further information access