These links are intended to present an overview of some of the life altering illnesses we may see in our ministry, so that, our new End of Life Spiritual Care Volunteers will have perspective of the limitations and suffering of the one dying and the heartache of their loved ones. This is reprinted from the Comfort Companion Training Series.
Overview of Chronic and Life limiting illness
The following list highlights some diseases and conditions which are life limiting and more than likely life ending. Included are the websites and phone numbers for more detailed info, publications, pamphlets and or PDF downloads. Most educational information is free from the organization. The phone centers are very helpful in choosing what would be most helpful for your specific needs. All information in this table represents a synopsis from the website stated with the condition.
The Alzheimer’s Association
A progressive disease, which destroys memory and other important mental functions. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia which can occur in middle or old age due to the generalized destruction of the memory and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life and eventually, the inability to care for one’s self. There is no cure, but treatments may help.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
The ALS Association
In Portland: 503-238-5559
“Lou Gehrig’s disease” or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a rare nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function. There is no cure.
The American Cancer Society
A disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy body tissue. Some types are treatable some are not.
The American Heart Association
In Portland: 503-820-5300
Heart conditions including diseased vessels, structural problems and blood clots. Some conditions include: Heart Failure, Heart Attack, Arrhythmia’s, High Cholesterol, and PAD. Most are treatable with medications, surgery and lifestyle enabling a longer life, but are not curable.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a disease in which there is a severe loss of the body’s cellular immunity, greatly lowering the resistance to infection and malignancy. If left untreated it can lead to the disease Aids, which is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, the final stage of HIV causing life threatening infections.
Huntington’s Disease (HD, Huntington’s Chorea)
Huntington’s Disease Association
An inherited condition in which nerve cells in the brain break down over time impacting a person’s functional abilities and usually results in movement, cognitive and psychiatric disorders. No cure but medications may help manage symptoms.
Kidney Disease: (Chronic Kidney Disease)
The National Kidney Foundation
Long time disease of the kidney, which leads to kidney (renal) failure. Often there are no symptoms so the disease may go unnoticed until it is very advanced. Usually diagnosed thru a blood test. Early diagnosis is key. No cure, but treatment is helpful.
American Liver Foundation
Any condition that damages the liver and prevents it from functioning as it should. Alcoholism, Hepatitis A, B & C, Cirrhosis, Fatty Liver are common liver diseases that can lead to liver failure over time. Early diagnosis and lifestyle changes are very important. There is not a cure but treatment may be helpful.
Parkinson’s Disease Foundation
A chronic and progressive movement disorder that involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain that control movement and coordination leaving a person unable to control movement normally, such as tremors of the hand or foot on one side of the body, slowness, rigidity, instability. There is no cure yet, but symptomatic treatment is very helpful.
The American Lung Association
In Portland: 503-924-4094
Diseases of the lung are numerous. Several which can be chronic and life threatening include, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease such as Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis), Cystic Fibrosis, Histoplasmosis (fungal spores from soil), Lung CA, Mesothelioma, (type of CA), Pneumonia, Pulmonary Fibrosis, Sarcoidosis, Sleep Apnea. Many lung diseases are not curable but treatment can be very helpful.
The American Stroke Association
Stroke or CVA (Cerebrovascular Accident) is damage to the brain do to an interruption of blood supply in the brain as a result of a blood clot in a blood vessel or bleeding from an ruptured blood vessel. The severity of the stroke is determined by, the amount of damage and the area of the brain affected. The results of the stroke may or may not be reversible. Coma is the state of unconsciousness caused by an injury to the brain. Injury may be a result of increased intracranial pressure, no blood flow, bleeding, loss of oxygen, infection and a build-up of toxins, blood sugars too high or too low. Coma can be temporary and reversible or it can be permanent.