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Palliative Care: What is it, How to Get It, What are the Conditions?

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Palliative Care: What is it, how to get it, what are the conditions?

Palliative care; It is very effective in reducing the negativities and disease-related complications experienced by the patient and family during the lifelong treatment process and improving the quality of life.

Chronic diseases are among the health problems that bring about a challenging process that requires lifelong treatment. When patients have to struggle with chronic diseases from adulthood to old age; It can also be negatively affected psychologically by being worn out due to reasons such as repeated hospital visits and tiring treatment practices. This situation brings with it factors such as stress, causing a decrease in the efficiency of the treatment and a decrease in the patient’s quality of life. Patients who must live with a serious chronic disease need a support layer between the hospital and home, both to alleviate symptoms and to minimize losses resulting from lack of communication during the treatment phase. Palliative care practices, which consist of practices aimed at this purpose and whose need and demand have increased in recent years, constitute the support layer in question. Palliative care; It is very effective in reducing the negativities and disease-related complications experienced by the patient and family during the lifelong treatment process and improving the quality of life.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is specialized medical care for patients living with a serious illness, with the aim of reducing symptoms, improving quality of life and minimizing stress. This care, which is very important for both the patient and his family, improves the treatment process by creating an extra layer of support for all procedures related to the patient’s treatments. Palliative care; It is carried out by a team consisting of doctors, nurses and other health professionals related to the patient’s health problems. The care process is generally planned according to the patient’s needs, not the progression of the disease, and increases the patient’s compliance with the treatment process. Patients of all ages and disease stages who will receive long-term treatment for a serious health problem can receive palliative care in addition to the normal treatment process.

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How to Receive Palliative Care?

Palliative care is a practice that individuals with a serious illness can access at every stage of their illness. At the same time, in the presence of this type of disease, it is possible to receive palliative care at any age, from childhood to adulthood. Patients who want to receive palliative care should apply to health institutions that provide this service. The first examination is usually performed in a health institution. A detailed medical history of the patient is taken and information is obtained about the diseases he has and the medications he uses. Then, physical examinations are performed, necessary diagnostic tests are performed and the patient is also evaluated psychologically. The palliative care team evaluates existing treatments and creates a care plan to improve the patient’s quality of life and increase treatment success. While making this plan, the symptoms of the disease, how the symptoms experienced and the treatment practices affect the patient and his family are also taken into consideration. The primary goal of the care plan is to improve daily life by relieving pain and bothersome symptoms. In addition, it is among the goals to prevent the patient and his family from being psychosocially harmed by the process of fighting the disease as much as possible. The determined palliative care plan allows you to act in coordination with your primary palliative care team and carry out your treatment practices more efficiently with the support of this team. Scientific research shows that starting palliative care as early as possible in serious illnesses helps to increase the quality of life, prevent problems such as depression and anxiety, and increase patient and family comfort. However, there are studies showing that in some cases, early initiation of palliative care may be effective in prolonging the patient’s lifespan.

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What are the Palliative Care Conditions?

Palliative care practices, also called supportive care, are applied to patients who have a serious illness and need support. In most cases of chronic diseases, especially older individuals, need palliative care much more than other individuals. Palliative care services can be provided in a hospital setting, at home, in primary health care facilities or in elderly care homes. In particular, many situations such as the patient being bedridden, being fed enterally or parenterally because he cannot meet his nutritional needs by mouth, having serious pain problems, having falling and incontinence problems due to old age, and having developed resistant bedsores are priority criteria for admission to palliative care. are among the situations. In addition, patients with problems such as end-stage cancer patients, chronic neurological diseases, muscle diseases and severe dementia are also among the priority groups. It is strongly recommended that individuals with serious chronic diseases, which generally do not have a curative treatment, receive palliative care. Apart from these, palliative care services can be provided to individuals of all ages with serious health problems. Acceptance conditions in this regard may vary depending on the health institution where the service will be received.

What is done in palliative care?

The palliative care plan is made by the healthcare team in accordance with the patient’s lifestyle and needs. Priority steps include addressing the symptoms the patient is experiencing and performing preventative treatments for them. With the help of these applications, the patient’s well-being and quality of life are increased. Some symptoms that can be improved or alleviated with palliative care include:

  • Pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • breathing difficulties
  • anorexia
  • sleep problems
  • Tiredness
  • Digestive problems such as diarrhea and constipation

During the treatment process, when faced with a serious illness or when approaching the end of life, the palliative care team provides support in the decisions that need to be made by both the patient and the family. In order to improve the quality of life and increase the patient’s well-being, care techniques such as breathing techniques, hobbies, rehabilitation practices and psychological therapies are also included in the guidance of the palliative care team. During the care process, evaluations are made about the patient’s goals and wishes and the necessary support is provided to achieve them. In addition, for patients who have requests such as a will, necessary guidance is given and support is provided in every aspect. Consultations to different medical units may be made if deemed necessary as a result of the evaluations made by the doctors, nurses and other health professionals in the palliative care team. In addition, the healthcare team is in constant communication with practitioners regarding the medical treatments and follow-up processes the patient has already received and works in coordination with these units.

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What Diseases Does Palliative Care Treat?

Palliative care can be applied in the presence of any serious chronic disease that limits the quality of life. All patients can receive palliative care support, regardless of whether they are children, adults or elderly individuals. Common types of diseases to which it is applied include:

  • cancers
  • Heart diseases
  • Paralysis (stroke)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Muscle and nerve diseases that cause tissue and dysfunction
  • Blood and bone marrow diseases requiring stem cell transplantation
  • end-stage liver disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • Chronic lung diseases
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • congenital diseases
  • Chronic diseases that cause movement limitation or bedriddenness for various reasons

Although these are generally groups of diseases that frequently require palliative care support, there are also many different types of diseases that require palliative care other than those mentioned in the list. For this reason, individuals of all ages who have chronic diseases that require lifelong treatment and experience symptoms that prevent them from living a quality life can apply to be evaluated for palliative care. If you need palliative care for yourself or your loved ones, you can get information about it and apply.

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