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What is palliative care? And when is the best time to get it?

Palliative care is care that helps people live their life as fully and as comfortably as possible when living with a life-limiting or terminal illness. Its main goal is to improve the quality of life of both the patient and his/her family. It is strongly advised to begin palliative care as soon as possible –ideally right after diagnosis- while undergoing active treatment. Unfortunately the term is riddled with common misconceptions which deterred many people from seeking help.

For more information regarding the true nature of palliative care and its benefits please visit the Palliative Care Australia and Putnam County Homecare and Hospice websites.

The Common Myths of Palliative Care.

People often worry that palliative care means giving up hope for a cure, while in fact it helps coping with aggressive treatments by managing symptoms and keeping pain under control. Certain studies -for example- have shown that receiving palliative care helped cancer patients complete their chemotherapy treatment and subsequently reported a much higher quality of life.

Another common myth people tend to believe is that palliative care is only for people with cancer, while in fact any person with any chronic illness which includes kidney, liver, lung and heart failure, dementia and other neurological illnesses can benefit greatly from palliative care.

Finally there is no age limit to be eligible for palliative care; people of all ages (including children) who feel like they could benefit from this care are encouraged to seek help.

For more common myths and misconceptions click here.

Diseases:

A common misconception about palliative care is that it is only for cancer patients. In fact a wide range of chronic illness may benefit from palliative care and a list of various diseases can be found on the Get Palliative Care website.

Managing symptoms:

Managing the pain and symptoms of the patient are crucial roles in the end of life care. The Royal Collage of Nursing offers guidance in managing the major and most frequent symptoms observed during life-limiting and life threatening diseases such as

  • pain

  • shortness of breath,

  • constipation

  • fatigue

  • loss of appetite

  • confusion

  • depression

Coping with Grief:

Grief is a natural and inevitable response to the loss of a loved one. It is strong and overwhelming, capable of affecting every aspect of our lives. For that reason the ability to cope with your grief is of utmost importance and is one of the goals of Balsam and of palliative care generally. If you feel you need help coping with your sorrow please click here for more information.

Identifying the final days of life and what to do.

When treating chronically ill patients with life threatening diseases, the ability to identify when the patient will die becomes essential. It can be hard to accept this, and a lot of people do not know what to do when the time comes. For further information on the matter including the steps needed to be done please click here.

Local Resources

  • Arc en ciel: an NGO that supplies medical equipment and supplies as well as medication to those in need. Phone: 01/495561 ext:5

E-mail: aec@arcenciel.org

  • Shehab gas: for various medical gas (including oxygen)

Medical division, Phone: 01/449584 ext: 221-228

E-mail: medical@chehabgas.com

Homecare division, Phone: 01/449584 ext: 121

E-mail: homecare@chehabgas.com

  • Funeral houses: Harb, Phone: 03/507550 or visit their facebook page

  • Flouty, Phone: 01/337086

For more general information regarding palliative care and end of life care visit the Get Palliative Care, Marie Curie and Palliative Care Australia websites.


 

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