Palliative care is the branch of medicine that is responsible for PREVENTING and alleviating suffering as well as providing a better quality of life to patients who suffer from a serious illness that compromises their lives, both for their well-being as well as their family. Palliative care usually applies to patients who have terminal illnesses that are outside of medical treatment or in very serious illnesses that are treated with life-prolonging treatments.
Main objectives of palliative care:
1. The management of the symptoms that put the patient and / or his family members in a situation of suffering.
2. Set treatment goals according to the patient’s preferences for their life.
3. Maintain communication between the patient, his family or caregivers and all the medical team involved in the treatment of his illness.
4. Provide psychosocial and spiritual support to the patient and their family members.
The success of palliative care is based on the communication that must exist between the patient, his family and his doctors in an atmosphere of cordiality, respect and trust, as well as in the perfect understanding of the objectives set, the state of the disease and the wishes mainly of the patient and, secondarily, of their relatives.
What diseases might require palliative care?
There is a wide range of diseases that may require the application of palliative care because it is a branch of medicine that supports both patients with diseases in very serious stages as well as those with the nature of their disease are outside of a treatment usual or conventional doctor or in a very advanced state with little probability of response to established treatments.
Some examples of diseases that at some time require more frequent palliative care are:
2. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV / AIDS).
3. Advanced heart disease.
4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
5. Chronic kidney disease (End-stage renal failure).
6. Advanced neurological diseases or those that do not have treatment like most dementias (such as Alzheimer’s).
What are the main symptoms or discomforts that palliative care focuses on?
The symptoms that are treated in palliative care are very varied and depend on the type of disease but there are also secondary discomforts caused indirectly by it, the social environment and the psychological aspects that the disease itself entails.
These symptoms include:
1. Pain control.
2. Treatment of depression.
3. Management of anxiety.
4. Treatment of delirium.
6. Dyspnea (shortness of breath).
9. Constipation (constipation).
11. Anorexia (lack of appetite).
12. Coping with the disease (aspects related to how to face the illness, the understanding of it, etc.).
13. Social aspects (the impact of the symptoms on the care of the patient and the family situation at that time).
The understanding and understanding of the disease, its condition, the degree of severity, its prognosis and the treatment options for it by both the patient and his family is achieved through constant communication with his doctor, as well as the relationship between trust that must be created between the medical team in charge, the patient and their relatives. With this process it is possible to avoid unnecessary prolongation of life or suffering and therapeutic measures that do not aim at either the well-being or the improvement of the patient’s life prognosis, thus avoiding therapeutic harrassment. That is, promote the quality of death. Achieving an adequate treatment of the symptoms that cause terminal illnesses and improving the quality of life at the end of the patient’s life and ensuring the well-being of their relatives.