Communicating with someone who has a life-altering illness is not an easy task. A person needs to have compassion, patience, and listening skills. I have seen firsthand how a caring healthcare provider and having an attitude of optimism can prolong a person’s life.
Illness can be characterized as acute, chronic, and life-altering (Tamparo). Acute is when a patient experiences severe symptoms for a short amount of time. Acute illnesses are not life-altering unless they are not treated. If left untreated, it may then lead into a chronic illness. A chronic illness is when the symptoms go on for a long period of time. Some examples are: arthritis, multiple sclerosis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Chronic illnesses may then progress to a life-threatening illness. Some examples are: HIV/AIDS, cancer, heart disease and diabetes. This stage is when death is inevitable. More than forty-five percent of Americans are living with a chronic illness which affects their daily activities (Consortium).
It not only affects the patient but family members as well.
A few of the healthcare problems that are common with a life-altering illness are stress, trust issues with the healthcare system and family, depression, and end of life decision making. Having a good support system is so important to these patients so, keeping the communication open between the physician and patient will help tremendously. It will relieve some of the frustration that accompanies the illness.
Some of the biggest obstacles patients with a life-altering illness deal with are: (1) The stigma of the disease (2) Lack of adequate family support (3) The impact of the disease on themselves and their family (4) Lack of adequate resources (Roberts). These are all very stressful obstacles which add to the health of the patient.
Details about a disease and its treatment need to be shared with the patient and family so choices can be made intelligently. It is important to treat the whole person. There are many cultures and belief systems so, it is very important for the physician and his team to get acquainted with the patient. There are patients that are not emotionally capable of handling the news of a bad diagnosis and they will need loving care and support from their loved ones. Yet, others are strong emotionally and are able to handle the diagnosis. This is why it is important that the physician needs to take into account the patient’s beliefs and culture.
Family and religion are very important in the Portuguese culture. My brother was raised a catholic but stopped attending Sunday services when he was older. However, he never stopped believing in God, and would ask me to bring a rosary to him every time he was admitted to the hospital. He also wanted me to accompany him on his doctor visits. This made him feel much more secure. In the Hispanic/Latino culture, the family is very involved in the decision making and care. A consultation with the family...