Disease Type Influences Palliative Care

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Palliative care or end-of-life care focuses on easing pain symptoms

Palliative care or end-of-life care focuses on easing pain symptoms and improving the quality of life for patients suffering from terminal or life-threatening diseases. This approach also gives support to loved ones and families of the ill person.

Patients with dementia or cancer apparently receive better quality and more lasting end-of-life care than patients with other terminal illnesses, Veteran hospital finds.

The study also revealed that patients with cancer or dementia are less likely to die in hospitals because they tend to plan their final stages of life. These patients also benefited from more attention, such as increased palliative care or advanced planning, than people with other terminal illnesses.

 These other diseases include frailty, lung disease, heart failure or kidney disease; researchers have stated. Over time, palliative care has focused on dementia and cancer, somehow ignoring other serious terminal illnesses.

Dr. Melissa Wachterman from a women’s hospital in Boston believes that the medical community needs to take other serious illnesses into consideration, such as kidney, heart or lung disease, as candidates for palliative care.

Although many times it looks obvious that terminal cancer patients will face death, other diseases should also be considered worthy of focusing on. So far, palliative care for other diseases doesn’t meet the standards which cancer and dementia patients have.

Hospice begins when all attempts at curing the disease have failed, while palliative care can combine hospice care with curative treatment.

The study found that 60% of patients with dementia or cancer marked the medical care they received as „excellent,” while only about 50% of patients with other sicknesses rated the care similarly.

Dementia and cancer patients also gave more DNRs (orders not to be resuscitated) compared to sufferers from other terminal illnesses.

Dr. Amos Bailey from a Colorado Medical School believes that patients should get both hospice and curative treatment care  as studies show that some patients do get better. These patients are less depressed and live longer, and may not have that chance if they were only offered hospice care.

He further explained that palliative care, which combines two types of medical care, is useful for patients with terminal illnesses and their loved ones and family.

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