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Palliative Care: Where Treatments and Compassion Go Hand in Hand

 India’s population is evolving and aging. With the geriatric age group expected to constitute 11% share by 2025*, the need for Palliative Care is also growing and several big health institutions and centers have made it an integral part of services.  With a focus on prevention, wellness, and cure, palliative care is equally important is promoting health, relieving suffering, restoring functional capacity and caring for those who cannot be cured, according to experts.

It is an interdisciplinary approach to specialized medical and nursing care that improves the quality of life in patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-limiting illnesses. It helps people with a serious illness feel better. Palliative medicine care prevents or treats symptoms and/or side effects of disease and its treatment. It helps reduce their suffering by means of controlling their pain, physical stress and mental stress at any stage of illness.

“Under Palliative care, we try to convince patients that it affirms life and regards death as a normal process. We do not intend to either hasten or prolongs death and try to provide relief from pain and other distressing symptoms. Combining the psychological and spiritual aspects of care helps a lot. Our aim is to offer a support system to help patients & families live as actively as possible till death”, Dr. Meghna Patwardhan – Consultant Palliative and Pain medicine, Nanavati Super Specialty Hospital. A team of palliative care specialists identify the needs and provide an entire range of services required.

Palliative care is provided by a team, including specially trained palliative care doctors, nurses, rehabilitation experts, counselors, psychologists, social workers, and other specialists, that works with the attending specialist to provide an extra layer of support and care.

People on death beds also suffer from psychological problems of depression, anger, frustration, emotional & social detachment, social problems like loss of jobs, financial burdens, loss of a role in the family, and spiritual issues like loss of faith.  Palliative care aims at addressing all these issues in an integrated manner to help patient and family overcome these hurdles so that they can lead an active life

“Palliative care can be offered to patients with various prolonged illnesses like Cancer, Heart & Lung diseases, Kidney failure, Dementia, Neurologic diseases, HIV/AIDS among others.  While receiving palliative care, people can remain under the care of their regular doctors and still receive treatment for their disease” Said Dr. Meghana Patwardhan.

Under Palliative care, treatments normally include pain and symptom control, counseling, support groups, family meetings and referrals to rehabilitation and mental health providers. When people are challenged by illness, they may look for meaning or question their faith. A palliative care team may help patients and families explore their beliefs and values so they can move toward acceptance and peace.

“Often patients assume their doctors will take care of their pain and stress, but most doctors in our specialized medical system have not been well trained in pain and symptom management. That’s why palliative care is invaluable,” Dr. Meghna explained further

The goal of palliative medicine is a holistic approach to the physical, psychological and spiritual well-being of the patient as well as his family during the process of illness and thus should be an integral part of all clinical practice, whatever the illness or its stage.

There was an urgent need to ensure that any patient in the end stages of life is treated with absolute care and compassion. Nanavati Hospital’s Centre is focused on medical comfort, intensive care unit, psychological and physiological therapy combined with yoga in an aesthetically pleasing environment.

* NATHEALTH & Bain & Company Aarogya Bharat Report

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