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December 3, 2018

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Using Exercise in Palliative Care

June 19, 2018


Incorporating Exercise into Palliative Care Programs

Palliative care is a specialized medical care for patients with serious illnesses, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, or Parkinson’s Disease. The treatment is designed to decrease pain and improve the quality of life for the patient and their loved ones. Typically, patients will receive support from skilled nurses, caregivers, and doctors, but they may also work with other specialists, like a physical therapist. Depending on the patient’s condition, working with a physical therapist and performing some moderate exercise may improve their condition. Here are just a few ways exercise can help.


Decrease Pain

Most patients with a serious condition spend a lot of time resting in bed. Though rest is certainly important, a lack of movement can worsen pain and inflammation. By getting up, walking, stretching, and practicing some strength training, a patient can improve their circulation and range of motion, both of which help alleviate pain. Through regular, moderate exercise, you can decrease pain and improve the quality of life for the patient.


Improve Sleep

Many palliative care patients struggle to get a good night’s rest because of pain, stress, or medication. Unfortunately, your body needs plenty of sleep to stay strong and fight your condition. Moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, can actually remedy insomnia and improve the quality of sleep. Typically, people who exercise daily can fall asleep faster and sleep longer than those who do not. Sleep is also linked to pain, so by improving sleep, you may also reduce pain.


Improve Your Ability to Fight Your Condition

Doctors often recommend exercise during cold and flu season to help boost immune systems. During palliative care, the same logic can be applied. By getting some daily exercise, you may be able to help your body fight your condition. Cancer patients, for example, may benefit from receiving physical therapy alongside curative treatments like radiation and chemotherapy. This logic can also be applied to conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease. Regular exercise can help keep a dementia patient’s mind sharp and active, so physical therapy may actually reduce some of their symptoms.


The Challenges of Exercise Programs

Despite the benefits, it is not always possible to incorporate regular exercise into palliative care. Some patients may simply be too weak to participate in physical therapy, making rest the best treatment option. Whenever a physical therapist works with a palliative care patient, they must carefully adjust their treatment plan to fit the patient’s needs.


Palliative Care at Haven Hospice

If you are looking for palliative care or hospice care, contact Haven Hospice today. Our team of compassionate doctors, nurses, caregivers, and social workers will work with your family to create a treatment plan that fits the needs of your loved one. To learn more, please give us a call at 417-581-1234.



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