Contributor: Kyriaki Panagiotopoulou
Origin/affiliation: Geriatric Department, Hospital ''Sainte Thérèse”, Bastogne, Belgium
Now I realise why the family and the relatives of a patient at the end of his life are thankful or even grateful to us, the geriatric team, for having offered paliative care to their beloved. Because it's extremely hard to watch your father, your mother, your beloved suffering while attending his inevitable end of life. It's painful to stay at the bedside of ''one more patient at the eighth decade of his life '' -but unfortunately this time he /she happens to be your parent- who can't eat, can't drink, who has a fever the greatest part of the day, in pain, swollen, with the agony of not having enough air to breath and a medical team that refuses to offer a less painful -more confortable exit to the eternity. A fundamental part of the geriatric care is the palliative care which has nothing to do with euthanasia or assisted suicide as it is – unfortunately- considered in societies and health systems where the geriatric assessment and the paliative care is almost unknown! The paliative care continues to be a treatment - a treatment of the pain, of the respiratory distress, of the fever...According to WHO ''Palliative care:
• provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;
• affirms life and regards dying as a normal process;
• intends neither to hasten or postpone death; ...''
When the clinical condition is irreversible, the only wish is for the patient to have a decent peaceful end of life; everyone of us deserves it or at least has the right to have an access in paliative care if he wishes it.