A brief introduction to palliative care would be to say that it is a form of specialized health care for patients with terminal diseases, terminally ill, and those with severe, incurable conditions. It also known as end-of-life care. In the US, it is widely practiced as an additional or complementary service; it has been found that the people who availed of this care not only survived but actually thrived. The fact is that their families were even more happy and relaxed because they were given quality comfort, proper respect and understanding for their condition. Palliative care should be considered as an option whenever there is pain and suffering involved.
Palliative care is basically a way of dealing with pain and discomfort associated with the terminal illness or the terminal disease itself. It can take the form of dealing with pain, depression, anxiety, and stress. There are specific therapies and treatments that are provided in palliative care for different illnesses. It is also referred to as compassionate nursing or hospice care, depending on the insurance provider and where the care is rendered.
When looking into the details of palliative care, we could see its many benefits. Firstly, it helps manage pain, stress and other emotional problems of the terminally sick patient. This enables family members to focus on their own individual needs. It enables families to help their loved one through tough times. Secondly, when suffering from incurable diseases like cancer and other life threatening ailments, patients usually find it tough to cope up with their condition. This helps them to focus on living a better life and also makes them appreciate their life.
Thirdly, through this type of care, we get to learn more about dying. It helps people accept their inevitable death instead of pushing it to another day. It is not easy to die; it is a process of accepting one’s own death. While accepting this fact, the patient also enjoys life and quality health care because they are not focusing on their illness and its consequences. Lastly, through palliative care, families are also given the time to grieve for their loved one.
Although there are various benefits of palliative care, some argue that it does not have anything to do with a patient’s quality of life. This is based on the view that once the process of dying has been completed, the body does not really need any more medical treatment. Some people also argue that it does not help alleviate pain and distress. This, they say, is not true because pain and suffering are as much a part of life as physical discomfort. Lastly, they feel that this form of care reduces the quality of life and enjoyment of the deceased’s life because of the lack of medical treatment.
But is it only about taking care of symptoms? What is the function of palliative care? In fact, there is more to it than just taking care of the symptoms and other normal problems that are associated with the terminal illness. The definition of this care is very broad. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), palliative care is defined as the prevention or delaying of death due to diseases or other impairment of the body or the mind due to the progression of the disease. It is intended to offer a comprehensive approach to the management of a disease and its consequences, aiming to improve the quality of life of the patients and improve the quality of the life of the society in general.
Palliative care offers various services to the patients depending on their condition. One of these services is counseling. It helps the family members, caregivers and the patients understand the situation and cope with it better. It also involves expressing the feelings of the patients and their families and offering solutions for pain management, symptom control, alternative therapies and stress management.
When we take good care of our sick persons, they can still have productive lives even if they are already at the end of their lives. However, this process becomes much more difficult when the person is suffering from an incurable disease like cancer. The whole goal of palliative care is to offer an active support system to the patients, their families and their caregivers to help them cope with the inevitable. Since there is no magic potion to cure cancer, the focus of palliative care is to reduce the pain, minimize the effects of the disease on the patients and extend the patient’s lifespan.