Extra efforts are needed in the treatment of patients with chronic pain or serious conditions that cannot be cured. In medical services, there is palliative care that may help resolve the problem. Palliative care can help manage pain, relieve bothersome symptoms, and make terminally ill patients as comfortable as possible. This treatment benefits not only the patient but also his/her family.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is specialized care that focuses on the individual as a whole. The principle of this treatment is that patients with severe or chronic diseases need specialist help to control their symptoms and also to support them emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Palliative care is an integrated solution for terminally ill or hopeless patients and their families.
Palliative care is beneficial for all patients of all ages and at any stage of the disease. This service may also be provided in conjunction with curative treatment. The main goal of this treatment is to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
Palliative care is provided by a team of various medical professionals, such as general practitioners, physiotherapists, psychologists, nurses and occupational therapists, as well as clergy and, where appropriate, other professions. Treatment can be performed in a hospital, patient home, or nursing home.
Palliative care provides relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness, regardless of the diagnosis. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment. The goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and the family.
Palliative care is delivered by teams made up of different healthcare professionals such as nurses, general practitioners, physiotherapists and occupational therapists as well as clergy and other professions as needed. It can be delivered in a number of settings including patients’ homes, hospitals, or nursing homes.
Is Palliative Care the Same as Terminal Care?
Palliative care can be provided for terminally ill patients. However, its scope is wider than terminal care. It can be said that terminal care is part of palliative care. Terminal care takes place in the last stage of the patient’s life, which the doctor can predict based on the patient’s condition during the examination.
This last stage is usually months or weeks before the patient is expected to survive. Before announcing that a patient can be provided with terminal care, the doctor will first perform a diagnostic and clinical examination. The results of the exam are also used as a basis for developing terminal care programs according to the conditions and needs of patients and their families.
Meanwhile, palliative care can be performed at any stage of the patient treatment process. The duration of treatment varies from person to person, depending on the illness and the type of care needed. There are patients who have received palliative care for a long time due to a serious illness. However, there are also those who spend months, weeks, or even days before passing away.
Under What Conditions Are Palliative Services Needed?
Patients may seek palliative care as soon as they are diagnosed with a serious and incurable disease. Patients do not have to wait for the disease to reach an advanced stage or in the last moments of life.
The earlier palliative care is started, the better the results. Combined with therapeutic treatment, palliative care can help reduce the anxiety, depression, and pain that may occur in the early stages of the disease.
The patient’s conditions requiring palliative care are as follows:
- Suffers from chronic pain or severe health problems such as cancer, dementia, and motor neuron disease
- An acute condition due to a traumatic event such as an accident or stroke
- Elderly people who are already weak and have serious illnesses that usually can only last less than a year
- Having an illness that is at risk of causing a sudden deterioration in the condition and leading to death
- Living without a family or away from the family
- Families feel unable to take full care of the patient
To determine the condition of a patient who needs this special treatment, you can consult a doctor who is treating your loved one.
How to Accompany the Loved Ones in Palliative Care?
Knowing that there is not much time to live due to illness can cause depression, anxiety, and other psychological problems to the loved ones. This condition can cause the patients to lose faith, self-worth, and belief. Patients may also feel that their lives are no longer meaningful. On the other hand, their loved ones also feel sad and lose hope.
In this case, family members must be able to show a better response through various forms of support. Although palliative care is provided by a professional medical team in collaboration with other professions, families are still required to accompany their relatives during treatment. In addition, palliative care also benefits the patients’ family.
The presence of a family is important to provide mental and spiritual support. The loved ones may wonder how they will be remembered after death. You can also think about the need to forgive or be forgiven by others. Some began to question their beliefs or religion.
Families need to be open to accepting and listening to these questions. Convince your loved one that you care about him and value your relationship with him. Families also need to be physically fit in their lives. For example, sitting next to them holding hands. Such a presence can make severely ill loved ones feel comfortable and at ease.
How to Perform Good Palliative Care at Home
There is no doubt that caring for the loved ones with a chronic illness at home may take time, energy, and thought. Especially if the family already has their own life and it is difficult to allocate time. So when a loved one needs palliative care, the best way is to bring the service team home.
Patients with incurable illness especially need palliative care at home to make them feel more comfortable among their family. Therefore, family collaboration is needed to get the most out of these services for loved ones. For instance, always create a comfortable, quiet, and peaceful environment at home. Home hygiene must also be maintained. Remember to take the necessary medical equipment and medication to control their symptoms.
Hospitals or healthcare centers that provide palliative care typically offer homecare services. Families can choose whether the team will take care of the loved one 24 hours a day, on a daily basis, or only at a time when there is no one to look after them regularly. Choose the type of service that suits your needs.