Comfort [Medical] Treatment

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( — December 15, 2017) — When our bodies deal with serious health concerns, we often experience discomfort and even pain. Counterbalancing this with a comforting and soothing environment is essential to healing. Research in psychoneuroimmunology shows that emotional stress impacts the body negatively. Studies of patients recovering from bladder surgery showed that those whose beds looked out on trees healed faster than those whose beds faced walls. It’s also more important than ever to make sure patients are in a safe environment; if there’s an accident, it could make the situation worse.

Finding a comforting facility

Some specialized facilities, such as cancer care centers, establish themselves as a home-base for patients. This means they make care coordination accessible and up-to-date. Don’t be afraid to check out a facility before you or a loved one are admitted. When you first enter a facility, note of how it makes you feel. Is the facility clean and well-maintained? What is the lighting like? Is it harsh and fluorescent, or is it warm and with lots of natural light? Consider what kind of art, decor, furniture, reading material, and music make up the atmosphere. Also see if there’s internet access. If a patient will be there a long time, he or she may want to use the computer to read, watch TV, or even do work.

Additionally, see if you or your loved one can have access to a private room, since noise is a major contributor to stress. This will also make it easier to personalize the space a little with music, flowers, and even with TV choices.

Most importantly: does the staff treat patients with compassion and respect? Do they listen to patients’ needs and concerns and truly work to improve things? If the person being admitted primarily speaks another language, does anyone on the staff speak the language well enough to communicate with him or her?

Of course, no matter how “nice” a facility may seem, if it can’t offer the right medical help, it won’t be worth it. Make sure the doctors and nurses are highly-qualified and well-reviewed. Be sure the facility provides regular assessment and improvement, as well as evidence-based treatment.  

Creating a comfortable home environment

You can create a healing sanctuary at home. This is easily done with flowers, art, lighting, and even pets (if they’re not going to be unhygienic), since petting animals releases endorphins. Pay attention to what you or your loved one prefer to do for self-care and relaxation, and make sure that those activities are within reach. You might create a reading corner with a comfy chair, lamp, throw blanket, and stack of favorite books. If yoga’s the thing, have a mat already unrolled–and be sure all safety measures are in place.

Remember, of course, that aesthetic and comfort, while important, aren’t what will make you or a loved one well. Be sure you have the right resources available. If your grandmother suffers from “apnea del sueño” (sleep apnea), be sure her CPAP machine is working and nearby. If you are recovering from hip surgery, keep your pain meds on hand and make sure you have handrails and stability measures in place. By creating a calming yet well-equipped environment, you can make the healing process more enjoyable and effective.