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End of Life Care

Associations with Terminal Illness

Associations with Terminal Illness

Terminal illness is a shocking and devastating diagnosis. When an individual is deemed to be terminally ill, he/she is suffering from an illness or a disease that will become progressively worse. These diseases are unable to be cured, and therefore, an individual suffering from a terminal illness will eventually die from the disease.
Throughout the duration of the illness, a patient will become weaker and weaker, his/her physical condition continuing to deteriorate. In general, the term “terminally ill” is reserved for patients that are expected to die within six months. There are many different types of terminal diseases. Numerous types of cancer are often incurable and will result in the death of a sufferer; for example, lung cancer, acute leukemia, and pancreatic cancer are forms of cancer that are generally considered to be terminal cases.
While sufferers of these diseases have a small chance of survival, these illnesses kill millions of people. Hepatitis B and AIDS are often commonly referred to as terminal illnesses. This is especially true when these diseases progress and the sufferer enters his/her final months of life.
When an individual is diagnosed as terminally ill, many concerns are raised for both the patient and his/her family. These concerns are emotional, physical, and spiritual in nature. A patient who is suffering from a terminal illness must go through the process of acceptance. When he/she is first diagnosed as terminally ill, he/she will generally experience disbelief and denial.
After a short period of time, these emotions will change to anger and depression. It is common for a terminally ill patient to feel as if he/she has been unfairly shorted. Fear is a common emotion faced by individuals that are suffering from a terminal illness. They often feel anxious about the uncertainty of what lies ahead.
In most cases, a terminally ill patient will eventually come to terms with his/her condition and will begin planning for the time that he/she has left. He/she may begin preparing advance directives and arranging his/her affairs. A patient and his/her family will also consider specific applications of end-of-life care. This may include palliative care and hospice care.
One of the primary concerns individuals with terminal illness face are the prospects of pain and suffering. Many terminal patients fear that they will experience increasingly intense pain as their illness progresses. Often, the symptoms associated with these severe illnesses are severe and, at times, overwhelming. Palliative care can help to decrease the severity of these symptoms while an individual is receiving treatment intended to cure his/her illness.
However, if curative treatment is unsuccessful and there is nothing more that can be done, a terminally ill individual may seek hospice care. This treatment will ensure that he/she remains comfortable during the final weeks of his/her life. While hospice care will not extend an individual’s life, it will help to guarantee that he/she is as pain-free as possible. 

Understanding The Background to End of Life Care

Understanding The Background to End of Life Care

Dying is a scary and difficult process, which often involves physical pain, emotional turmoil, and spiritual uncertainty. When an individual is aware that his/her life may be nearing end, he/she will often fear the uncertainty of death, the pain that is associated with the process, and the thought of dying alone. Many individuals nearing the end of life will seek the assistance of end-of-life care.

There are different types of end-of-life care that are appropriate for different situations. If a patient is seeking curative treatment to prolong life for a period of time, he/she may also seek palliative care. Palliative care and curative treatment may occur simultaneously. Palliative treatment will seek to induce comfort and relieve pain by quelling the intensity of symptoms.

However, if curative treatment has failed and a patient is reaching the end of life, he/she may seek the assistance of hospice care. Hospice care will help to prepare a patient for death and ensure that he/she receives physical, emotional, and spiritual support and comfort.

End-of-life care is a relatively new concentration in the field of medicine. The practice began in London and Ireland in during the 19th century, when monastic orders began to establish hospices to care for individuals who were dying. In 1967, the first modern hospice, St. Christopher’s Hospice, was founded in the United Kingdom. It was after the creation of this facility that the hospice movement began to gain momentum.

In the last decade, the hospice movement has become a widespread undertaking in the United States, increasing from volunteer-led end-of-life care to a substantial subset of health care. Hospital-based end-of-life care began in the 1980’s as small programs in a few hospitals across the country. Today, more than half of the large hospitals in the nation offer palliative treatment and hospice care to patients reaching the end of life. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010, seeks to increase funding for palliative care programs.

Palliative treatment and hospice care offer invaluable assistance to patients who are approaching the end of life. While these programs offer essential medical attention that decreases suffering, hospice care also seeks to address the emotional and spiritual needs of dying patients. Many hospice facilities provide patients with access to counseling services and work closely with clergymen to increase spiritual contentment.

These programs often offer patients the option of remaining in their own home when they are nearing the end of life, thereby enhancing a patient’s comfort. The service and care provided by end-of-life care programs is invaluable. It not only helps to address the concerns and decrease the fears of dying patients, it also helps to ease the stress and anxiety that is faced by patients’ families.

Caring for a dying family member is often physically exhausting and emotionally traumatic. End of life care programs will help to ease the burden faced by families, allowing them to handle their own grief alongside assumption of the caregiver role.