If you haven’t heard the term, palliative care refers to the care of patients that are coming toward the end of their life. It’s about keeping them comfortable, happy and secure as their life comes to its full circle. Advanced progressive illnesses such as cancer and dementia are commonly not responsive to medicinal treatment in a curative way.

When your family member has been through a rigorous programme of drugs, drips and hospital stays, palliative care can feel like a relief. It’s not just about managing their pain at the end of their life, but it’s about providing a holistic approach which incorporates spiritual care services with the view of achieving quality of life for the remaining months they have. If you want to learn some more about spiritual care in end of life patients, Stanford Medicine has a great spiritual care library collection that can be read from online. Many patients find palliative care difficult to handle, and not just emotionally. The side effects of palliative care can be difficult and so those patients that struggle with those effects often turn to complementary therapies.

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There is a great range of complementary therapies that are available to patients on end of life care. We’ve listed for you below the most common types of palliative care that patients turn to that differ from the traditional medical approach. If your relative is currently looking for additional relief, always seek the advice of a doctor before going ahead.

Homeopathy. You may have read about homeopathy in passing, but the extracts used in homeopathy are all designed to help stimulate the body into self-healing by activating the natural defences. These can mainly help a palliative care patient mentally, providing relief alongside traditional medicine.

Reiki. There are many healing types out there, and Reiki uses the energy of the patient in a positive way to find an internal balance. People have an electromagnetic field surrounding them, and Reiki helps to restore that healthy energy that is missing for a patient under end of life care. It can be used in patients to make them feel calm, relaxed and peaceful; which we all know goes a long way to healing.

Acupuncture. You can read about acupuncture here in more detail, but using needles to restore a natural rhythm to a system that is out of balance can be very effective. Emotional and physical stresses can be relieved in this way, and regular appointments can give patients time to relax and as it’s tailored to the individual, no two acupuncture programs will be the same.

Holistic therapies are often not supported by medical doctors as a method of treatment, despite the numerous evidence based articles that support them. Complementary therapies like the ones that have been listed have all had great success in alleviating emotional and physical pain of patients who are struggling to cope with their course of palliative care – which can be stressful. It runs alongside their regular treatment to provide additional relief, and can always be considered.

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