When the Search For Cure Ceases - Pallative Care

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Families often struggle with the need to be sure everything has been done that can be done their terminally ill loved one. It can be very difficult for the patient and family members as they transition from making decisions toward cure to making decisions that will help to allow for a comfortable and peaceful death.

When a terminally ill person and/or their loved ones make the decision to discontinue curative treatments and move instead into comfort care in preparation for approaching death, there are several matters which must be considered.

What is Palliative Care
Palliative is any form of medical care or treatment that concentrates on reducing the severity of symptoms rather than curing the disease. The goal of palliative care is to relieve suffering and improve quality of life for those who are experiencing serious, complex and terminal illness.

This can include alternative or energy work such as massage or aromatherapy which may alleviate the side effects of the curative treatments. One example is methods of relieving the nausea associated with chemotherapy.

Over the past twenty years, the focus on a patient's quality of life has gained substantial ground. Today in the United States, 55% of U.S. hospitals with over 100 beds offer a palliative care programand nearly one-fifth of community hospitals have palliative care programs.A relatively recent development is the concept of a dedicated health care team that is entirely geared toward palliative treatment, called a palliative care team.

There is often confusion between the terms hospice and palliative care. In the United States, hospice services and palliative care programs share similar goals of providing symptom relief and pain management.

However, the most important distinction between hospice and palliative care programs in the United States is that hospice is a Medicare Part A benefit, thus requiring many aspects of hospice care such as enrollment to be regulated by the United States federal government.

Non-hospice palliative care, however, is appropriate for anyone with a serious, complex illness, whether they are expected to recover fully, to live with chronic illness for an extended time, or to experience disease progression.

As death becomes more imminent, attempts to cure the disease taper off, while palliative care measures increase.

Judy H. Wright is a parent educator, family coach, and personal historian who has written more than 20 books, hundreds of articles and speaks internationally on family issues, including end of life. You are invited to visit our blog at www.AskAuntieArtichoke.com for answers and suggestions which will enhance your relationships. You will also find a full listing of free tele-classes and radio shows held each Thursday just for you at www.ArtichokePress.com.

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