“We need responsible, compassionate doctors who can hand hold them….keep the human being comfortable.”
Apart from being a doctor where she engages with caregivers, Dr Rajam Iyer has also been a caregiver to her own parents. While being a caregiver to her parents, watching them interact with doctors, she realized how a doctor can change the life of a patient. A doctor’s language, tone or body posture can make the patient/caregiver feel less burdened with their situation. She realized that in spite of being a doctor herself, it was a tough emotional journey being a caregiver to her father, so for a person from a non medical background the challenges can be harder. Caregivers go through a gamut of unaddressed issues that include physical, emotional and financial aspects.
According to Dr Rajam, Medical schools do not teach emotional connect, and it can be tough for doctors to deal with another person’s stress as well, so most often patients are looked at from a disease perspective and how it needs to be treated rather than being person-centered. Fearful of situations taking time, doctors refrain from connecting to the patient, but she suggests framing questions properly so that the patient/caregiver can open up and make it easier for both the doctor, the patient and the family to decide on a treatment. These situations can lead to unnecessary procedures or treatments as well.
In India people go below the poverty line caring for a loved one who did not require treatment in the first place. Financial , emotional, physical support is required for patients/caregivers so we need responsible, compassionate doctors who can guide them and keep the patient as comfortable as possible, while addressing health-related suffering to the patient and their caregivers.
“We need to educate both the people(community) as well as doctors need to be trained in palliative medicine so we produce a more compassionate lot”
It is also important for patients to educate themselves to know their rights or refuse treatments if not required. While people are living longer but not necessarily better. It is time to integrate curative and palliative care when treatment is no longer required and make the system a more person centered care which can lead to a better quality of life.