Patients with Life-Altering Illnesses Essay

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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 (Rober...

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...ongress Briefed on the Self Management of Chronic Illness." (2011): 1-5. Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA). 2011. Web. 17 June 2011.
Farber, MD, Neil J., Susan Y. Urban, MD, Virginia U. Collier, MD, Joan Weiner, PHD, Ronald G. Polite, Elizabeth B. Davis, PHD, and E. Gill Boyer “The Good News About Giving Bad News to Patients.” Dec. 2002.
Groopman, Jerome E. The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness. New York: Random House, 2004. Print.
Kowalczyk, Liz, ed. "Learning the Patient's View." 20 Mar. 2006. Web. 17 June 2011.
Roberts, Cleora S., Cindy Severinsen, Chuck Kuehn, Drew Straker, and C. Joy Fritz. "Obstacles to Effective Case Management with AIDS Patients The Clinician's Perspective." Web. 17 June 2011.
Tamparo, C., and W. Lindh. Therapeutic Communication for Healthcare. Clifton Park: Delmar Cenage Learning, 2007. Print.

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