When You Should Accept Palliative Care?
Palliative care, sometimes called comfort care, is treatment for people with a serious illness. It is designed to manage pain and discomfort. Among other things, comfort care may involve medication, massage, meditation, counseling and practicing relaxation techniques. The specific treatments used depend on the person's medical condition, prognosis, and personal preferences. Some people, for instance, are afraid that palliative care means imminent death. It may help them to know that people often live for months or even years on comfort care. Depending on the illness, some people recover completely.
Other people are afraid that receiving pain relief medication will mean getting a lot of injections. In reality, the medication is usually give by IV, by a liquid medication called Roxanol that is placed in the pocket of the cheek, or by rubbing the medication onto the skin of the arm. There are two main times when people should put aside their concerns and consider accepting palliative care. Medication is more likely to be used in hospice care when future addiction is not a problem.
During a Serious Illness
Some illnesses may not be immediately lie threatening, but they cause a lot of discomfort. One example is sickle cell anemia. In the case of an illness like this, the person receives aggressive treatment in hopes of either curing the illness or sending it into remission. At the same time, the person receives palliative treatment to relieve discomfort. This type of care is usually delivered at the hospital or a pain management center.
Comfort care for diseases that are not expected to end in death tend to be careful of prescribing too much narcotic medication. They don't want their patients to beat their illness only to have to face an addiction. Therefore, these programs are more likely to use techniques such as visualization or hypnosis.
During a Terminal Illness
A terminal illness, one that is expected to end in death, often causes severe pain and discomfort. For instance, cancer might lead to pain while liver disease may lead to swelling and discomfort in the abdomen. At some point in the illness, it makes sense for the person to stop aggressive, curative treatment and turn to comfort care. In this situation, comfort care is usually provided by hospice in the home. It can also be provided at home, because sadly, according to the Canadian Hospice and Palliative Care Association, 70 percent of Canadians spend their final days in care centers, in spite of the fact that most of them would rather be home.
Palliative treatment is an important service that can make seriously ill patients more comfortable and that can even, in some cases, extend life. Anyone with a serious illness that results in pain should consider requesting comfort care as part of their treatment team.