The specialized medical care given to people with serious illnesses is known as palliative care. The following passages shed light on the different aspects of this form of care, thereby helping us understand its usefulness.
Palliative treatment is the comfort care given to a patient, suffering from a life-threatening illness, from the time of diagnosis till the entire course of unwellness. It aims at relieving or minimizing the symptoms of a disease but not curing the problem. It also helps in reducing the side effects of certain medications. The treatment is provided for various diseases irrespective of their stage or severity. In short, the objective of this treatment is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and the family, by reducing the stress and pain of a serious illness, through all possible means. Pediatric palliative care is an emerging field which deals with the treatment of children suffering from serious illnesses.
In Comparison to Hospice Care
- Palliative services can be offered to any person suffering from any sort of ailment, irrespective of whether they completely recover or not.
- Hospice care requires the certification of two physicians, stating that the patient has less than six months of time to live, if the disease pursues its regular course. Of course, if the patient continues to live longer than six months then he/she will not be discharged from the care center.
- The hospices which are used for the treatment of dying patients were earlier used only as places of rest till the 4th century. Hospice in the United States has grown by leaps and bounds to improve care for people dying from grave ailments.
- This form of care doesn’t just focus on the physical aspects of health, but also considers the emotional and spiritual facets.
- In case of incurable diseases like cancer, the family members are also provided the necessary mental support.
- Patients with kidney diseases, pulmonary disorders, progressive neurological conditions, and chronic heart failure are also considered apart from cancer patients.
- It improves the patient’s ability to endure medical treatments.
- It helps the patients better understand their choice of treatment by helping them improve their communication skills.
- The treatment for cancer patients can be provided at home, in hospitals, or hospice facilities. The care at home is generally provided for the first few days, and as the cancer progresses the patient is shifted to the hospital.
- The treatment takes care of symptoms such as pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness, trouble in breathing, weight loss, constipation, nausea, confusion, vomiting, cough, etc.
- Codeine and morphine, the opioid medicines, are given for relief from pain. There are four modes of giving painkillers, i.e., through the mouth, rectum, skin, or veins. These opioid painkillers can sometimes cause constipation.
- Cancer patients may also face emotional problems, as they find it difficult to accept the fact in the first place. Anger, irritation, and other such reactions, though normal in such cases, need to be overcome at the earliest. Palliative care helps them overcome such problems through counseling. They are advised to get engaged in hobbies like writing, painting, listening to music, etc.
- The family members also need to be counseled on how to tackle these tough times. It is necessary to maintain a harmonious and peaceful environment.
- The focus of palliative radiation treatment is on minimizing the pain. The tumors affecting the bones and spinal cord, which in turn create problems in locomotion, are treated.
- Problems associated with eating, breathing, or bowel movements are also tackled.
- A specialist who carries out the radiation treatment is known as radiation oncologist.
There has been a massive rise in the number of palliative treatment centers in the recent years. In the United States, this care program is offered by 55% of the hospitals which have a hundred bed facility. With the increasing awareness about problems faced by cancer patients and others who face serious illnesses, this field has grown a lot. It is necessary to constantly find out new ways of improving the lives of more and more people around the world.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.