Contrary to popular belief, palliative care is good for you! But we won’t get this until we understand the catch. We are mortal, we are all going to die. There is no way out of this dilemma. Unless we understand, accept and realise that is neither our fault nor anyone else’s fault, we won’t be able to face death and appreciate the benefits of this type of care.
Palliative care is not only specialised medical care for people who have been diagnosed with a serious illness, but it is the art of providing relief from the pain and stress of illness.
However, it is often a misunderstood term. When it comes to palliative care most people freak out! For many people, the word ‘palliative’ is associated with death and dying. This isn’t true at all and at Dying To Understand we are dedicated to changing this image and give palliative care its true meaning.
While end-of-life care is important, palliative care does not mean that you are about to die. It is a holistic approach to health service, that aims to give patients and their families the very best quality of life.
The goal is to improve the quality of life of patients and their families by identifying and treating the patient in all aspects of their life- physically, psychologically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. It makes the end of life more meaningful; it adds to both the quality and quantity of life.
Many believe that palliative care should start when a person is dying. However, this care should be part of the journey – starting with the transition from life, through the dying process, onto death and finally bereavement. The last months of life are a rugged off–road journey and it is always beneficial to have additional support and resources rather than trying to face this journey alone.
No one should want to deny themselves relief and comfort. When it comes to dying, we need both reliefs from the symptoms of illness and comfort in the transition from life to death. Receiving Palliative care does just this. It provides relief from physical discomfort as well as mental distress- thus bringing balance to the body and mind.
Many people do not have hope when life is ending. How can there be? Palliative care helps provide patients and loved ones with a sense of hope for the future.
Toward the end of life, the body begins to fail to function. Much like ageing this includes fatigue, weakness, poor appetite and pain and depending on the cause and trajectory of the illness, the list may be much longer. Early symptoms may be mild and unnoticeable but make living difficult towards the last few weeks and months of life, making good medical care essential.
Palliative care specialises in the management and relief of physical symptoms of a failing body, from medication to physical therapy.
Sometimes, we easily forget that we are all human. Dying can be messy and as death approaches people to become more vulnerable. This vulnerability is sometimes raw, and can be a burden to bear. Palliative care recognises the need for safe environments, to discuss problems openly and provide ways to re-establish a sense of well-being.
It is no secret that we are spiritual beings. Many believe that our spirits will continue on after our journey on Earth. But, when it comes to death, often question their spirituality or seek answers about their spirituality. Palliative professionals understand the value of spirituality in patients’ lives and work towards providing an environment where these connections can flourish.
Inpatient care or Hospice care is fully focused on end-of-life processes, and making these as painless as possible for patients. This care does not consider the management of illness or treating a condition for the goal of daily living. As such, treatments to cure any illnesses are usually stopped. It rather focuses on patients who have little chance of surviving beyond another six months.
Palliative Care, on the other hand, is physical, mental and emotional care that can be utilised at any point in life. While it does not fully replace other treatment, it is compassionate care that focuses on relieving the symptoms of pain and stress in terms of daily living with a terminal illness.
Many people do not cope with death and dying very well. Those who have been diagnosed with an incurable or terminal illness will often find that their friends, family and carers close off and shy away.
This is not for fear of the illness but for the fear that they do not know what to do or what to say – making it easier to stay away and hide rather than face the reality that life is coming to an end.
Death is a reality and pretending it won’t happen does not help. Palliative care should provide a truthful discussion about the matters of life and death. With more conversation comes better support for people nearing the end of life, and their loved ones.
Dying To Understand provides access to resources, information and guidance to the community that needs it most. Our mission is to open the conversation about death and dying. We are here to support you on your palliative care journey. Why not share your story with us today?
Dying to Understand provides free e-books about death and dying. This information is essential for those who are grieving, curious about the process of dying, or simply want to be more prepared for the end of their own life.
Death is a topic that we all have to face at some point in our lives, but it’s often shrouded in mystery and taboo. Dying To Understand takes the guesswork out of death and dying, providing clear, concise resources and information on this process.
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