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Understanding Palliative Care and Why it is Important

Home - Understanding Palliative Care and Why it is Important

According to National Healthcare Decisions Day, approximately 42 percent of Americans had a friend or relative suffer from a terminal illness or comma between 2001 and 2006. Most of the people affected directly or indirectly by terminal illnesses tend to go through some of the most challenging times.

It is common to find such people experiencing depression and even considering suicide. Terminal illnesses often lead to financial problems, a drop in productivity and even drug abuse. However, taking a closer look at what it means to be terminally ill and how to overcome the challenges that arise can be crucial to enjoying a more fulfilling life.

What Exactly is a Terminal Illness?

A terminal illness or disease is a condition that cannot be cured. Some people refer to it as end-stage disease which means that regardless of the treatment undertaken the person affected cannot recover and will therefore die. 

Some examples of terminal illnesses include cancer, AIDS, Alzhemer’s disease, congestive heart failure, dementia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, liver diseases and multiple sclerosis.

According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 609,640 people in the U.S will have succumbed to cancer between January and December of 2018 alone. These are worrying statistics by any standards and that is why it is vital to understand what palliative care is and why it is one of the most effective ways of managing terminal illnesses.

Palliative Care Explained

Palliative care is an approach that seeks to better the quality of life for a patient and loved ones. This type of care often seeks to determine possible problems that may arise and provides solutions before or when they occur. 

Palliative services include physical, psychological and spiritual care. While family members and friends can provide this type of care, most people use the term palliative care to describe the services that are provided by an organized health service provider.

With that in mind, it is important to point out that receiving palliative care does not necessarily mean that you or a loved one is dying. There are many people that receive this type of care and recover to live long fruitful lives. 

There are also those who move in and out of palliative care. Each patient has unique circumstances that can best be addressed by a team of qualified doctors, nurses and other medical specialists.

When to Consider Palliative Care

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness or chronic disease, it may be prudent to start thinking about getting this type of care. Some doctors may recommend specific health care centers for you to go to. However, you can as well do some research to find out some of the most professional centers to seek help from.

Once you reach out to a health care provider, a representative will provide helpful information that is specific to your situation. The representative may also schedule an appointment, so you can meet and go through the process of getting enrolled to their program. Additionally, you will get the specifics regarding the costs you are likely to incur. Such information can help you make plans in a more organized manner.

The Nitty-Gritty of Palliative Care

One of the most important parts of palliative care is physical pain relief. Your team of caregivers will come up with the best solutions to any pain you may be experiencing. They are able to administer recommended drugs and make you as comfortable as possible so that you or a loved one does not go through unbearable pain.

Another aspect of this type of care is that it supports an active lifestyle. Your team of caregivers will come up with innovative ideas on how to keep you or a loved one active for as long as possible. This means the patient does not really have to spend the whole day and night in bed. Instead, they can engage in certain activities that improve physical and mental health.

When someone has a terminal or chronic illness they tend to go through a lot of spiritual and psychological problems. Unless given adequate support, such individuals may end up slipping into depression. Some of the consequences of depression may include drug abuse, lack of energy, lack of sleep and development of suicidal thoughts. Palliative care offers spiritual and psychological support to ensure the patient never has to deal with such issues.

The team of palliative caregivers does not only focus their attention on the patient, but they also incorporate close family members and friends into their program. This means that even your loved ones will receive special attention in the form of counselling and timely teachings to ensure everyone goes through the trying time with as little pain as possible.

It is worth noting that palliative care does not intend to hasten or postpone death, Instead it allows the people affected directly or indirectly to come to terms with the fact that death is a normal occurrence. Once everyone understands this, it is easier for them to prepare for the inevitable.

The Palliative Care Team

Once you reach out to a palliative care service provider, you will then have to mean a team of dedicated care providers. That is because most programs involve a group of people with special skills and passions to help you and the family cope with the situation.

A palliative care team often includes professionals such as doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors, and other medical experts. After the team has had an initial meeting with the patient and the family, it also holds consultations with the primary doctor to eliminate any chances of errors.

It is the palliative care team that comes up with customized solutions to the problems that you or a loved one is experiencing.

Most caregivers have the skills, experience and determination to help patients get through their most trying times in a more comfortable and dignified manner. If therefore you feel overwhelmed by a terminal or chronic illness, do not hesitate to reach out and get timely help for the situation.