Palliative care is a pretty encompassing term. The World Health Organization defines it is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness. It accomplishes this through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
When thinking about palliative care:
- provides relief from pain and other related symptoms
- affirms life and regards dying as a process of life
- intends neither to hasten or postpone death
- integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
- offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death
- offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement
- aims to improve quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness
- is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications
Palliative care is also an option that is available to those with ESRD. Going on dialysis or getting a transplant isn’t an option for everyone, however if this is a choice that you make, you are choosing a treatment option that is end of life planning. For some the benefits of starting dialysis are outweighed by time consumption and the potential for a large physical and mental toll on their body and mind. Also some patients will have a difficult time qualifying for transplant. There are publicly available hospice programs that can help you with this process if you so choose. This is a very serious decision that needs to be discussed with your healthcare team and family. Once your kidneys fail, you can only live for a short time without dialysis therapy or a transplant.
Chronic kidney disease can change your life forever. It is important to learn all you can about your condition and your treatment options. Knowing all you can makes it easier to manage the changes in your life. At The Center, we are dedicated to empowering patients and while we don’t want to push any treatment option over any other, we do want to reiterate that not choosing dialysis or transplant is a choice for end of life planning.