Because palliative care is a fairly new concept within the medical community, some patients and their families in the Mt. Vernon area and elsewhere aren’t always quite sure what it is, what it isn’t, and how they should feel about considering it as opposed to traditional care.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice has extensive experience dealing with all types of care and patients at many different points of their health journeys.
Some may decide to take a palliative care approach when they’ve been diagnosed with a major health condition, and opt for a larger focus on quality of life going forward, rather than more advanced or more complex efforts that might or might not be effective but could also be painful, invasive, or risky.
Sometimes we only meet people seeking this type of care when they’re already at the hospice stage. The palliative care goal at this point is to keep them as lucid and pain-free as possible in their final days. This can include a focus on pain relief, trying to reduce any anxiety or stress, and providing general comfort and support. This can make it easier to be able to spend remaining time connecting with family, friends or loved ones, or taking care of final arrangements or similar details.
Palliative care doesn’t even have to automatically mean a patient is terminal – sometimes just the focus on better quality of life can facilitate healing and recovery, such as moving someone from a noisy and uncomfortable hospital to their home. This more secure and peaceful setting could help someone’s mental state, lower their anxiety and encourage healing.
Focusing on dignity, respect
Whatever the choice, we make sure we respect the decision made by the patient and their families. It’s important to recognize the difficulty of saying “no thank you” to modern medical professionals, some of who may be professionally interested in using traditional means to try and treat whatever disease or condition a patient is dealing with no matter the risk, cost or pain.
Instead, members of a palliative care team will place their focus on how they can deliver services to a patient in a way that is less invasive and less painful.
We also make sure we always respect a patient’s dignity through this process since it can emotionally be a difficult time for them and for the people around them, along with any physical pain they could be dealing with.
If they’re receiving hospice care, they’ll often feel vulnerable and scared as they prepare for death, something that many people don’t generally want to think about in their daily lives, or at least think about in an abstract sense.
Patients may want extra time or energy and but are also aware of their declining physical health. They also can have some medical treatments and therapies ahead of them, especially if they’re receiving home health care.
A massage therapist, for instance, can offer massages to relieve stress and pain. An occupational therapist can teach useful skills, such as being able to get in and out of bed or around the house safely. A physical therapist can teach various methods to begin healing muscles or other physical challenges that may or may not be connected to the main health condition.
This level of respect we show our patients and we encourage others to show others is important for all ages and conditions. It also goes beyond the U.S. level as well. The United Nations is a firm believer in every human having certain rights, regardless of any politics, economic status, geography, or general values.
On Dec. 10, 1948, the UN General Assembly approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document shared worldwide that emphasizes that every citizen in every country is entitled to certain inalienable rights and has value. Their status as a human matters, whatever race, language, religion, country of origin or several other factors.
The document, which is now available in 500 languages, is considered the most translated publication in the world.
Each year, on Dec. 10, the UN continues to celebrate Human Rights Day and reminds us all of our uniqueness. Along with celebrating the accomplishments of individuals, the goal is also to encourage others to keep up the good work celebrating everyone’s rights, especially young people and future leaders.
If you’re currently going through palliative care or may need to consider it in the near future, we’ll be happy to discuss the pros and cons to help you and your family makes an informed decision. We promise to treat all patients with the respect and kindness they need at this difficult time. Just like everyone should live with dignity in their life, this should also extend to any care they receive at the end of their life.