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When researching health and aging, there’s a lot of information regarding preventing disease and illness, staying active, and living a healthy lifestyle. But what happens when you are diagnosed with a life threatening illness? You may seek medical treatment right away, and still find yourself needing additional support that exceeds the abilities and capabilities of your family and friends. The good news is that you don’t have to suffer alone. Everyday people with life-threatening illnesses receive care from hospice or palliative care programs. According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, nearly 1.4 million people are cared for annually in the United States. Palliative care and hospice care are available for individuals suffering from life-threatening illnesses. These options can allow for you to be cared for in your own home or in a skilled facility, depending on your wishes and needs, and you don’t necessarily need to be near death to receive care. Ask your doctor or other medical providers about palliative care and hospice options in your area.
Palliative care can start as early as diagnosis. It involves medical care, emotional support, spiritual encouragement, and other various types of care and support, depending on your specific needs, beliefs, and wishes. Palliative care can be given along with disease/illness treatment. Although individuals who are eligible for palliative care are those with life-threatening illnesses, they don’t need to be in the final stages of life in order to receive this type of care. If health declines and the individual becomes terminal, the palliative care team and medical providers are able to suggest comfort care or help with the transition to hospice care. In the same, if the individual’s health improved, the team may determine that no they no longer need the same high level of care. This type of care comes alongside medical treatment to help promote a high quality of life for the individual and loved ones.
Hospice care is designed to help individuals who have been diagnosed with 6 months or less to live. This is the point when a cure is not possible, an individual is no longer responding to medical treatments, or has chosen not to continue treatment. Care transitions from seeking a cure, to providing pain-management and comfort. Hospice care can be given in many different settings: at home, at a hospital or nursing facility, or in a hospice center. Hospice is not a specific place you go to but a method of care. It involves a myriad of people with various backgrounds such as doctors, nurses, social workers, spiritual advisors, and trained volunteers. These skilled individuals are available to provide physical comfort, medical care, emotional and spiritual support for the dying individual and loved ones. I’ve said before, our families aren’t typically trained to provide high levels of daily care to us. While they might be willing to help, managing all of the needs of a dying loved one can be beyond their capability. This is why hospice is an option. It allows families to share the final days of their loved one’s life in a peaceful environment without the worry of having to provide care.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.