Post-Polio Health (ISSN 1066-5331)
Vol. 29, No. 4, Fall 2013
A Gentle Death
Nancy Baldwin Carter, BA, MEd Psych, Omaha, Nebraska
At the far end of the end-of-life spectrum lies palliative care, a set of services created to benefit the chronically ill. In fact, it’s so far from the end that, at times, it may not appear to classify as end-of-life at all. Patients receiving palliative care may simply be those with grave, life-limiting (but certainly not terminal) illnesses. Their care may consist of providing comfort, relieving symptoms, mitigating stress and pain. This may often exist hand-in-hand with curative treatment for disease.
This could include people such as polio survivors, perhaps struggling with pain, loss of function, chronic weakness, those who are ventilator users or those experiencing continually deteriorating muscle mass. Other people may be affected by serious complications of aging, cancer, heart or renal disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or diabetes, for example, all longing for symptom relief, serenity, a better quality of life.