Department of Medicine
Palliative Care & Geriatric Medicine Treatments & Services
We offer Primary Care to older adults and through the continuum of geriatric psychiatry, social work and inpatient services.
Mass General Geriatric Medicine and Orthopaedic Surgery have joined together to redesign the way care is offered to senior patients with bone fractures.
The Division of Palliative Care & Geriatric Medicine welcomes patients and family members who are facing a serious or life-threatening illness, regardless of diagnosis or ability to pay. Services are provided to inpatients and outpatients. Services vary, depending on individual patient and family preferences.
About Palliative Care
How does palliative care differ from hospice care?
Palliative care can be provided during any stage of a serious illness, even during active treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation. Team members can help with the transition to hospice care, if needed.
Treatment to relieve pain and other symptoms
The Palliative Care team has an expertise in the management of pain and other troublesome symptoms that may develop during the course of a serious illness. The goal of symptom management is to help the patient remain as comfortable, active and alert as possible. Good symptom control enables the patient to continue with favorite activities and enjoy the company of family and friends. The patient's care plan is individual and focuses on maximum comfort. Palliative care carefully monitors symptoms and uses a combination of medications tailored to the needs of each patient.
Individual and family counselingPalliative Care focuses on the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. How the illness personally affects the lives of the patient and family is important. Everyone copes in different ways. Support is tailored to the needs and preferences of each individual. Supportive counseling is provided to those who find having a quiet time to reflect and to address their concerns helpful.
The Palliative Care team works to encourage an open dialogue between the patient, family, and medical team. Team members are happy to take the time to listen to each patient and family's questions and concerns. The purpose is to get to know the patient as a unique individual and to help the patient identify his or her personal goals and wishes. Palliative Care also works to provide the patient and family with the information and resources needed to get through this challenging time.
Palliative Care also focuses on those things that give individuals a sense of meaning and provide a source of strength and comfort. For some, this is connected to a spiritual life which may involve a particular religious tradition or practice. Our goal is to respect and support each person's connection to what is important in his or her life. The team can help to assure that the patient and family are able to continue their spiritual practices, whatever they may be.
Assistance with treatment choices and decisions
The Palliative Care team is available to help with decisions about treatment or changes in the direction of care. Even when treatment to cure a disease is no longer possible, aggressive treatment of symptoms is emphasized in order to promote comfort. The focus continues to be on intensive caring and support for the patient and family. The patient's physicians continue to be involved. The team provides consultation to the patient's regular physician who will continue to direct the patient's care.
Help in planning for care after the hospital
The Palliative Care team can provide information about a wide range of options for care, whether in the hospital, in another inpatient setting, or in the home. The goal is to facilitate a smooth transition, and to assure that care continues in keeping with the patient's goals and wishes. If and when hospice care is needed, Palliative Care can assist with making referrals to a hospice program in the patient's community.
The Palliative Care team also sees patients and their families on an outpatient basis. Regular office hours are held daily in the Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care. Visits usually focus on pain and symptom management, counseling, advance care planning, and arranging for services in the community. Routine visits may be scheduled by calling 617-724-4000 and asking for the Palliative Care scheduler.
When an illness has progressed to an advanced stage, treatment to relieve pain and other symptoms continues. The Palliative Care team will remain closely involved, with a focus on intensive caring. The goal is to help the patient live life to the fullest with quality and dignity.
Bereavement support and referral
The Palliative Care team realizes that the pain of loss for a family continues after the death of a loved one. The team will keep in contact with the family in a variety of ways to offer support and to make suggestions for resources in the community, such as bereavement support groups. The Division of Palliative Care & Geriatric Medicine mails one-page Bereavement Readings to the families at regular intervals during the first year after the death.
Dementia Care Collaborative
The Dementia Care Collaborative was created to educate and support patients, caregivers, health care providers and the community. Dedicated team members offer opportunities for learning and connecting across the hospital and into the community at large. We are here to teach new ways of understanding dementia, how to best communicate and partner with those with dementia and offer support and guidance for caregivers to feel empowered to foster their own wellbeing and resilience. To learn more, please visit the Dementia Care Collaborative website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Home Palliative Care Program
The Palliative Care team also sees patients with advanced, complex illness and their families at home through a collaborative program with the Primary Care Practices. Visits focus on pain and symptom management, advance care planning, counseling and maximizing care for the patient and family at home. The program is currently limited by geography and to those patients with a Mass General Brigham Primary Care Physician. For more information regarding the program please call our administrative office at 617-724-3344.
About Geriatric Medicine
Geriatric Medicine, part of the Division of Palliative Care & Geriatric Medicine, at Massachusetts General Hospital provides office-based primary care and consultation services for older adults at risk or with complex chronic and age related conditions.
We specialize in primary care of older adults with the goal of emphasizing preventive care and health maintenance. Our physicians work in teams with nurse practitioners, social workers, case managers as well as geriatric psychiatrists, geriatric cardiology and geriatric urology. We are particularly interested in helping manage the challenges facing patients with multiple chronic conditions, functional limitations, cognitive impairment and their families.
The Geriatric Inpatient Fracture Service (GIFTS) is a program that aims to better manage patients 65 yearsold and above, who are admitted to the hospital with orthopedic injuries, such as hip fractures, but who often have additional medical issues as well. GIFTS provides the best possible care throughout hospitalization. Along with more specialized care, the program also decreases wait time for surgery, reduces length of stay in the hospital for fracture care and improves geriatric-specific communication with families and receiving rehabilitation facilities. Our goal is to restore quality of life to our patients. Through GIFTS, physicians from Geriatric Medicine work closely with physicians from the Orthopedic Trauma Service along with staff from the Departments of Nursing, Anesthesia, Endocrinology, Physical Therapy and Nutrition. The main goals are to help patients avoid complications following surgery, address underlying medical needs, strengthen overall health and provide patient- and family-centered education.
The consultation is a specialized evaluation by a Geriatric Medicine physician, in order to address aging-related challenges for patients aged 65 and up. Geriatric Medicine physicians (or geriatricians) take a whole-person approach which is sensitive to the particular circumstances which can arise in older adults.
We offer consultation for the following:
- Memory problems
- Alzheimer's disease and other dementias
- Falls and difficulty walking
- Difficulties with day to day personal care and other activities due to health
- Planning for medical care in later years
- Connections to community services