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Demystifying Palliative Care

In recent years, the number of cases of people suffering from chronic illnesses has started to increase. Scientists and medical researchers offer up a variety of reasons for this.

Some of the leading reasons include:

  • the intensive work people subject their bodies to
  • the amount of toxin exposure present in items we come across every day
  • or even the chemicals used to grow the foods we eat.

Also, people are living longer secondary to medical interventions, advancing primary care practices, and medical supports at home and facilities, causing people to survive with chronic conditions.  

Hospice care was started in the early 1000’s to assist individuals with chronic diseases and was religion-based. Then in the 1960s, modern-day hospice came to be, based on the principles of Cecil Saunders.  Modern-day palliative care came around as a result of hospice care advancements, as they both try to create better lives for affected individuals.

What is Palliative Care?

Some people confuse palliative care with hospice care. However, palliative care looks to help an individual from the moment they receive their illness diagnosis focusing on managing symptoms like pain, nausea, depression, constipation, diarrhea, and more.

Additionally, palliative care can extend to more advanced care like lining up home services, reviewing medications, providing psychological support, and so much more. Hospice care, on the other hand, comes into play when a patient receives a prognosis of 6 months or less to live.  This is one of the most defining differentiation between palliative care and hospice care.  

Providers specialized in palliative medicine will help the patient focus on functional objectives and progressions/reassessments for safety, support, and prognostication.  Additionally, palliative care gets the patient’s other caregivers involved. In doing so, the caregivers get a fuller picture of what treatments their patient is undergoing, allowing for better treatment overall. They’re also able to get assistance to help improve their quality of life.  

Illnesses That Can Benefit From Palliative Care

According to research by the World Health Organization (WHO), some of the leading diseases that require palliative care include:

  • Alzheimer’s and Dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cancer
  • Liver cirrhosis

The top half of the list consists of conditions known to affect mostly older individuals while the bottom half includes illnesses noted to be prevalent in both adults and children.

Does Palliative Care Enhance the Quality of Life?

Based on different research, palliative care success rates depend on the disease in question, the affected age group, and the caregiver’s expertise. Some examples of success of palliative care might include: 

  • With illnesses that require pain management, the ability to minimize the pain to manageable levels determines its success rate
  • When dealing with older individuals, caregivers being able to interact with them without leaving the affected person feeling helpless would be considered a win
  • Being able to get affected individuals to adopt palliative care measures with the goal of improving their quality of life

These are just a few instances that could be used to determine the success palliative care can have.  

Ultimately, Palliative medicine specialists provide invaluable support to both patients and the many providers that may be involved in helping them manage their chronic illness.  This can be a very complex role that touches both the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the patient.

At Yankton Medical Clinic, we are pleased to offer palliative medicine to our patients in need of this service.  Please take a moment to learn more about our board-certified palliative medicine provider, Amanda Sedlacek, D.O. Board Certified.

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