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End of Life
Live Your Final Days to the Fullest
A member wrote AARP saying, "In the three years since my 82-year-old mother was
diagnosed with heart disease, she has been getting progressively worse. She says that she is
having some discomfort and is frequently short of breath. Because of this, she won't go out
socially and has lost interest in her favorite activities. Her doctor said that he thought she
would benefit greatly from something called palliative care, but we are hesitant because we
don't know what is involved. What is palliative care?"
It's no wonder that some of today's medical terms confuse people. The health field is
changing all the time, making huge strides in diagnosing and treating illnesses. New
approaches to care are constantly being developed. Palliative care is one of these new
Palliative care is for patients who have chronic or life-threatening illnesses such as heart
disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and AIDS. It offers a range
of services that improve the patient's overall quality of life.
What is palliative care?
Palliative care eases the symptoms of a disease. It doesn't cure it. Originally linked to
hospice, today there's a new and expanded meaning. It's a new medical field that means much
more than pain management.
Palliative care is a team oriented approach for people whose illnesses don't respond to
curative treatment. It deals with the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of
patients and their families, allowing them to live life to the fullest each day. This care
provides comfort to maintain the highest possible quality of life. While it can start at any
stage of illness, its biggest role is at the end of life to ensure that the patient's needs are met.
How does palliative care work?
Throughout the illness, the focus is on the care of the whole person, not just the disease. To
do this it brings together:
z Social workers
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