Hadassah

Restoring Dignity to Kids with Chronic Diseases

Thursday, May 21 2015

"Restoring dignity to children with chronic diseases is more than a lofty principle," says Prof. Eitan Kerem, head of the Division of Pediatrics at the Hadassah Medical Organization. "Dignity-enhancing therapy," he emphasizes, "can have a dramatic effect on the health and well being of both patient and family."

Prof. Kerem notes that chronic diseases typically affect children's lives in a whole slew of negative ways. Loss of dignity comes in countless forms. Not only do these children experience discomfort, loss of energy, and a restriction of their activities, but they also suffer social isolation from their peers and other family members. A chronically ill child may be plagued by feelings of self-consciousness and embarrassment if he has to depend on family members or caretakers for daily tasks or if the disease makes him different from other children. And there is also the humiliation of being shunned when the child has a cosmetic disfigurement.

At the same time, pediatric chronic diseases affect not just the child, but the whole family. Parents, for example, may experience a loss of dignity if they need help from other family members or friends or when they must accept charity from acquaintances. By the same token, in dealing with the health or welfare authorities, they sometimes face a lack of sensitivity to their child's special needs, which requires energy and strength that many times they lack and decreases their sense of dignity.

Prof. Kerem brings out that the nature of chronic disease is that in most cases it is difficult to restore dignity as long as the patient has the disease. Empowerment, however, is perhaps the most important step in restoring dignity and this is accomplished by giving the patient and/or family a leading role in deciding all aspects of care. The new sense of empowerment increases the family's sense of control and reduces feelings of helplessness and futility.

Another means of enhancing dignity is to extend counseling to the patient's peer group. Role playing can be used to teach children how to deal with physical and intellectual limitations in themselves and others. The counseling can also address the healthy child's fear that he or she may be affected by the same chronic disease and help alleviate discomfort in interacting with children who are different.

"A paradigm shift" is needed, Prof. Kerem says, if patients with chronic diseases and their families are going to be brought to the maximum level of dignity.

Comments

No comments yet.
First Name
Email
Comment
Enter this word:

Related Stories

alt_text

Wednesday, Feb 14 2018

Student with MS Running the Jerusalem Marathon to Support Hadassah’s MS Program

Thanks to his physicians at the Hadassah Medical Center, Dov Guggenheim, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2015, has gone from “depressed to optimistic, paralyzed to athletic, and, most important, hopeless to hopeful.”

READ MORE ›
alt_text

Wednesday, Feb 7 2018

Texas Tropical Disease Expert Meets with Hadassah Infectious Disease Specialists

Dr. Peter Jay Hotez, renowned professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Houston (Texas) Baylor College of Medicine and Dean of its National School of Tropical Medicine, met with two Hadassah Medical Organization infectious disease specialists to discuss regional cooperation in fighting tropical diseases, such as the now-infamous Zika virus and leishmaniosis, which is contracted from sand flies.

READ MORE ›
alt_text

Wednesday, Feb 7 2018

Large Hadassah Study Identifies Predictor of Greater Risk of End-Stage Renal Disease

The findings of a nationwide study of over a million and a half Israeli adolescents, conducted by researchers at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, suggest that kidney disease in childhood is associated with a significantly increased risk of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in adulthood, even if kidney function seems normal in adolescence.

READ MORE ›
alt_text

Wednesday, Feb 7 2018

Israeli Start-up’s Algorithm Predicts Which Diabetic Patients Will Suffer Kidney Dysfunction Within One Year

The Israeli start-up Medial EarlySign has created a machine-learning-based model that has proven to identify diabetic patients who are at the highest risk for experiencing renal dysfunction within one year.

READ MORE ›

Donation Questions

donorservices@hadassah.org

(800) 928-0685

Membership Questions

membership@hadassah.org

(800) 664-5646

Missions Department

missions@hadassah.org

(800) 237-1517

Contact Us

40 Wall Street

New York, NY 10005

support@hadassah.org

More ›

Show More