New dimensions in palliative care: A palliative approach to neurodegenerative diseases and final illness in older people

Document Type

Journal Article


Australasian Medical Publishing Company Pty. Ltd.


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Nursing, Midwifery and Postgraduate Medicine / WA Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care




This article was originally published as: Kristjanson, L. , Toye, C. M., & Dawson, S. (2003). New dimensions in palliative care: a palliative approach to neurodegenerative diseases and final illness in older people. Medical Journal of Australia, 179(6), s41-s43. Original article available here


A palliative care approach has much to offer people in the advanced stages of neurodegenerative diseases, as well as elderly people dying from diseases other than cancer. Palliative care can be part of the treatment repertoire of any health worker, supported by intermittent consultation or referral to specialist palliative care services (eg, for management of neuropathic pain). A palliative care approach encourages a focus on pain and symptom management, and prompts more open communication about end-of-life issues. This approach recruits as necessary the expertise of specialists and multidisciplinary teams to encourage a flexible, responsive service. Home carers and healthcare providers require education to ensure a palliative approach that meets the physical, psychological, spiritual and social challenges facing patients and their families, and enhances dignity and quality of life.