Needless stress can be alleviated as we learn options available. One object of this column is to help caregivers and caring families know about choices available. I was not aware until recently of palliative care; what it meant and who may need it. Perhaps, you also find the term unfamiliar.
As we learned last week, hospice care is generally for patients with life expectancy of six months or less. Palliative care is an area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients without dealing with the underlying cause. This care may be available in all disease stages, not simply end-of-life situations.
The rapidly growing field of pediatric palliative care has clearly shown the need for services geared specifically for children with serious illness.
Immediate palliative care is indicated for patients with serious illness and who have physical, psychological, social, or spiritual distress as a result of the treatment they are seeking or receiving. Palliative care increases comfort by lessening pain, controlling symptoms, and lessening stress for the patient and family, and should not be delayed when it is indicated. Palliative care can increase quality of life and lengthen the patient’s life.
Depending on the circumstances and need, both hospice and palliative care are provided by a team of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, social workers, chaplains, various therapists, volunteers and family. It would be wise to visit with your primary physician concerning the help available to you or your loved one. As with any care, this may not be a viable option for you; be sure to become well-informed.
Several of you are facing complicated issues. From personal experience, I also know when in the middle of a crisis or potential crisis, it is difficult to make sound decisions. I cannot stress enough to communicate, not only with your health care providers, but also family and volunteers who may be helping you.
During the years I took care of Mother, it was often an aide or friend of the family who had been in similar circumstances and therefore, provided some timely information.
I believe our loving Heavenly Father equips many people according to their gifts to help others cope when the inevitable trials come. My husband has served as a hospice chaplain nearly twenty years and often shares with me how God has worked through ordinary people to accomplish great things.
My prayer is that you will trust and rely on Him for guidance in all your decisions and never lose hope.
Please let me know if you found this helpful to you. I would like to hear from those who have used this care. Next week we’ll look on the lighter side of caring for others. Blessings to you.