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June 2010 | 0 Comments | Print

Finding emotional and physical relief from chronic illness

The diagnosis of a chronic, progressive illness often leads to many struggles for patients and their families. The complexity of treatment options, coping with pain and questions about how to prevent the disease from taking over their life can be overwhelming.

Some patients and their families are fortunate to have discovered a specialty of medicine known as palliative care that can help them not only better navigate treatment but also relieve their physical and emotional discomfort.

With rapidly advancing technology and medications care options can be confusing, particularly when an illness is complicated. A palliative care consultation can help strengthen and empower patients to make healthcare decisions with added confidence while living their lives as fully as possible, says Rajan Lakhia, D.O., medical director of palliative care with The Christ Hospital.

Improving quality of life

A common misconception about palliative care is that it’s only for patients who need end-of-life care. In fact palliative care can also be helpful for patients who are expected to fully recover from an acute illness or suffering from a chronic illness. Regardless of the circumstances, the goal of palliative care is to aggressively treat symptoms causing distress to maximize comfort and improve quality of life.

Physicians and nurses specializing in palliative care work alongside the physicians treating and managing a patient’s illness. Relieving physical symptoms is one of the key aspects of any palliative care program and may involve recommendations on how to improve sleep, picking foods that fill nutritional needs or pain management through medication or modifying physical activity.

What’s especially unique about palliative care is its focus on the emotional and spiritual symptoms that often accompany illness, not just for the patient but also for his or her family. Chaplains, ministers and social workers can be actively involved as treatment partners to help everyone work through the challenges an extended illness can bring. Their guidance can lead to resolutions about spiritual issues or may help family caregivers become better prepared to care for their loved one.

To learn more about palliative care call 513-585-4157 or visit

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