Friday, June 24, 2011

Dr. Eldon Dahl (ND) discusses "Palliative Care" in his monthly column "The Dr. Is In."


Dear Dr. Dahl,

I have a question regarding the welfare of a dear friend of mine who, due to the deteriorating state of his health, had to be admitted into palliative care in the hospital until space is available at a long term care nursing home. I thought he would be fine but in a short period of time, his condition has worsened ten- fold from when admitted.  I am afraid that I may have made the wrong decision, but I can’t take care of him on my own. Can you recommend any treatment that could help to restore his health?  It is frightening how quickly he went down-hill.

MMN - Fretting in Toronto

Dear MMN,

Thank you for your question.  This is a desperate situation that many families are now facing; Canada’s rapidly- increasing senior population is expected to double in the next 25 years. I don’t think we have adequate funding or planning for this form of health care, although these needs should have been anticipated.  Because of this, those who helped build our country are often being shuffled out of sight and neglected in the process.

We need to follow the example of other nations and establish a system of care for our elderly allowing them to remain at home, with care provided by one or more dedicated family members, paid by the government for their work.  In this mode, the burden of care can be fit into the family structure, while costs of unnecessary hospitalization and nursing home care are avoided. Of course the greatest benefit to such patients is their ability to live in familiar surroundings, with the comforts of home.

Since your friend’s health condition was not disclosed, I will answer your question based on what you have supplied.  Even if clarity of mind is not an issue for him, being isolated and alone in a strange environment can easily contribute to the deterioration of his health. The sudden feeling of helplessness and uselessness is more than most can take after a life of productivity, and when combined with hospital food, airborne bacteria, limited care and loneliness, can be devastating beyond whatever damage he has already suffered.  Therefore, I would recommend that the primary focus of attention be aimed at assisting his mental condition.      

My recommendation would be to give the amino acid L-Tyrosine and/or Neurological Support to addressing mood swings, and to maintain mental clarity. Though you did not elaborate on his condition, I would assume pain is a concern, as it is with most seniors, especially when bedridden.  

Liquid SAMe is great for pain, depression, arthritis and a host of other conditions.  I recommend the liquid version, since it can easily be added to water or juice if the patient has difficulty swallowing pills.  If sleep is an issue, I would recommend liquid melatonin, again for ease of delivery.

Unfortunately, in both hospitals and care homes, the patient’s immune system is under attack, given the stressors of helplessness, loneliness, and fear.  Pyroxidal-5-Phosphate (P5P) Complex and HGH+ are known to do wonders.  The Life Choice brand includes these easy-to-administer supplements, which are only available in health food stores.

Also of concern are the proper food nutrients, which need to be maintained under less-than-ideal circumstances. Proper protein intake often suffers most, and I find one of the best sources of protein is found in hemp heart seeds, and in hemp and almond milk.  Obviously, fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies offer a healthful choice as well.  But there is one stunning new study showing that including beet juice, rich in nitrates, in those smoothies is an excellent idea: the study, published in the journal Nitric Oxide, showed that there are major benefits from dietary nitrates, including increased blood flow to key areas of the brain in older adults, possibly improving mental function.  It is well-known that drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure, another complication of stress. 

Now the problem becomes, how do you get these into your loved one when you are not always there to do it?  I would suggest that you find a naturopathic doctor to lay out these requests in prescription format -- something that the hospital or care-home staff can easily identify with.  Having an open-minded medical doctor included in the treatment process is helpful.  Ideally, the patient should be kept from being inundated with drugs that sedate, rather than treat, and draw the life from one who is already fragile, and his care providers should be empowered with the best tools for his recovery.

I wish you the best of success,
Dr. Eldon Dahl


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