The disease was once considered “adult-onset” diabetes, but cases among U.S. children have ramped up from virtually zero to tens of thousands in little more than a decade.
In the era of modern medicine, there is often no easy way to navigate between an acceptable quality of life and a death with dignity. But palliative care specialists, relatively new players on the health care scene, offer comfort, support, pain control and, if requested, spiritual counsel, helping people sort through often confusing and ambiguous medical options.
Living wills and advance directives were the hope for end-of-life decision-making decades ago. But a 2004 survey by FindLaw found that 36 percent of Americans have a living will, and even when people have filled out living wills, doctors often ignore them.
Palliative services are designed to help patients and their families sort through their options – ome of which may help restore the patient, while others may increase suffering for a minimal health benefit.
Several states are implementing “medical home” programs, which shifts the health care system from emphasizing acute care for emergencies, such as heart attacks and strokes, to one focusing more on treating – or preventing – chronic illnesses.