Sunday, August 3, 2014

Raymond's letter to The Sunday Times: Holistic approach needed to manage chronic illnesses

My letter to the Sunday Times on the above matter is published today, Sunday 3rd August 2014.

Senior health correspondent Salma Khalik’s commentary (“Doc, could you speak slower, more simply”; last Sunday) highlights an issue facing both doctors and senior citizens.

It is never easy managing chronic illnesses, especially in the elderly. If their conditions are poorly managed, it can lead to other complex illnesses that require even more medication.

A holistic approach is needed. A good support network that includes caregivers, doctors, social workers and counsellors plays a vital role in the rehabilitation and recovery of the elderly sick, as well as those who are dying.

For novice caregivers who have the unenviable task of managing their loved ones with serious mental disorders, they need to be guided all the way by doctors and nurses when those they are caring for get hospitalised.

For instance, most caregivers are not aware that giving daily reports to psychiatrists on how the patient is responding in the wards, or when they are on home leave, can be help in the patient’s recovery.

An effective way to ensure that medication is taken properly is for the caregiver to type out a list of the prescribed drugs and place it near where they are kept.

This list can indicate the types of medication to be taken for a particular illness and the dosage, while giving some brief details of the drugs, such as the colour or any special design on them.

Finally, for end-of-life issues, palliative care services that involve family caregivers and regular doctors need to be put in place as they offer an extra level of support.

After the patient dies, there must be a high level of support for the grieving caregivers. Do we have this in place?

Raymond Anthony Fernando


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