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

Tuesday, Jun 20 2017

Send in the Clowns: A Hadassah UK Dispatch

This week Hadassah UK (HUK) brought in one of the Hadassah Medical Organization's best and more unusual, head medical clown David Barashi (DuSH).

READ MORE ›
alt_text

Friday, Jun 16 2017

Hadassah’s Director General Receives Honorary PhD from Cyprus Medical School

For sharing his knowledge and experience with senior officials in the Cyprus medical system, Prof. Zeev Rotstein, Director General of the Hadassah Medical Organization, was awarded an honorary PhD from the St. George University of London’s Medical Program at the University of Nicosia Medical School in Cyprus.

READ MORE ›
alt_text

Thursday, Jun 8 2017

Hadassah Doctors Discover Bullet
in 12-Year-Old’s Arm

Muhammad Baduan, age 12, had been experiencing pain in his arm on and off for months. Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem Emergency Room physicians put an end to the boy’s pain when they solved the mystery: Muhammad had a 22-millimeter bullet hidden in that arm--a bullet that had been shot into the air as part of a post-wedding ceremony celebration.

READ MORE ›
alt_text

Monday, Jun 5 2017

Hadassah Cutting-Edge Neuropsychiatrist Keynotes Alzheimer’s Conference

“The key is to give medicines much earlier--before the brain material has been destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Shahar Arzy, head of the Hadassah Medical Organization’s Computational Neuropsychiatry Laboratory, told his audience at the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA)’s New York Educational Conference on May 5, 2017.

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