Palliative Care

The times they are a changing…

So sang Bob Dylan four decades ago and so it still goes.

The word “hospice” is slowly being replaced in the popular lexicon by a more general, and (unlike “hospice”) not yet misunderstood, term: palliative care.

The dictionary defines “palliative” as: (of a medicine or medical care) relieving pain without dealing with the cause of the condition. So really hospice care is a subset of palliative care – one that adds the seemingly foreboding diagnosis of “end of life” care to the definition.

While to some this might be a little like 1984’s newspeak it really is not. Some people who are not terminal may seek palliative care for conditions that either are not cure-able or for which they have exhausted their personal options for cure.

In western Pennsylvania there is a newly minted service available to provide palliative care to those who need it. The Concordia Visiting Nurses organization has marshaled their resources to provide a focus for such care. But the reach of what they have created goes beyond the geographic region they serve. They have created a website with resources for anyone anywhere to use.

The website Living With Serious Illness is available to anyone and it has information that can help. For instance, under the menu item Difficult Symptoms you can find real, actionable, useful suggestions to help in dealing with things like breathing trouble, pain management, fatigue, depression, nausea, and restlessness, just to name a few.

So while some things are changing, some are not. Not at all. The helpful tips and the other resources in this site are available to you – they are made available to the public by the parent organization of the Good Samaritan Hospice, the one I serve and whose tagline I endorse: “We put our faith in caring.”

About Richard Haverlack

Richard Haverlack has been writing the memoirs of hospice patients for more than eight years. He has recently written a book, A Memoir of Memoirs - Writing Stories Told at Life's End, which is about the poignant and enlightening experiences he's had in doing this work. Richard is a volunteer for the Good Samaritan Hospice near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He also is active in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institution at the University of Pittsburgh where he studies as well as teaches.

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