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Palliative Care and Human Rights for Older Persons

  • Date
  • December 2016

Palliative care is fundamental to health and human dignity and is a basic human right. Palliative care for older persons is centered around the provision of symptom management and pain relief for chronic and life-limiting illnesses, taking into account the distinct needs and capacities related to aging. Care may be provided through inpatient facilities, community-based centers, or at home, and often requires collaboration between multi-professional health workers across different settings. Effective palliative care for older persons involves both patient and family needs and integrates physical, psychosocial, legal, and spiritual support. The right of older people to decide about individual treatment preferences and where they receive care must be protected at all times.  

This fact sheet examines the growing need for older persons’ palliative care, the distinct and specific palliative care and end-of-life needs of older persons, the recognition of older person’s palliative care under international human rights laws, and what steps governments should take to promote, protect, and ensure access to care.

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