It is a very difficult situation to be in, outliving your children. Each year, thousands of parents are in the difficult position of obtaining for their critically ill children medical care that will improve their quality of life but not curing their illness. Palliative care provides many facets of medicine and the bottom line is the improved quality of life for not only the patient but also the family involved.
Palliative care focuses on the entire being from emotional support to spiritual to physical. It is not just about the illness itself but also in how it is handled, not only by the sick child but also the families. When a child is involved, palliative care for the pediatric set can make a big difference.
Improvement of Life Quality
The primary objective of this type of care is the improvement of quality of life. This is done through pain management techniques and alleviating other physical symptoms of illness like vomiting, nausea and shortness of breath.
Spiritually and emotionally, palliative care enlists the help of social services, clergy, counselors and more. Dealing with a critical illness is tough and often both the child as well as the families need help sorting through all of the emotions involved.
In the case of a sick child, parents and families may be seeking spiritual answers to the question of why their child is sick and not them.
Difference from Adult Palliative
Palliative care for children can greatly differ from that of adults. As such, the goals are quite different. There can be a fine line of determining when medical technology may not be the best thing in regards to the treatment of a child.
How does it impact the quality of their life? Will it help them live longer but still remain in pain? With these questions, both the parents and the doctors must communicate effectively with one another to ascertain what would be right for the child.
Its a Family Affair
Palliative care for children also involves the family as well, particularly when there may be brothers or sisters. Siblings may not always understand what is going on and when the parents are wrapped up in the sick sibling, the healthy ones may feel left out or slighted.
Or, they may believe that they are next to become sick. They are dealing with issues of mortality, something that can be hard to accept and understand. Palliative care would include counseling services for the healthy members of the family to help them cope with their sick loved one.
With children, palliative care should always be an option whether a cure is hopeful or not. In fact, all kids should have access to palliative care so it is important for the family to ask about their options.
Remember, this type of care focuses on the comfort level of the sick child and makes their time as free of pain as possible. Palliative care can happen in the hospital or in a home setting. When possible, a home setting is actually preferred as it will boost the child’s emotional well-being.