By Grane Hospice Care Staff
It is not uncommon to have anxiety and concerns about the use of pain medications for our loved ones at the end-of-life. There are worries that your loved one may become addicted to the medications or may no longer be able to communicate because they are so drowsy. These are very understandable concerns and deserve some explanation. The Hospice Team focuses their care delivery on Comfort Care assisting the patient in determining how to best control their pain so they can make the most of their life enjoying family and the things they find important to them.
The Hospice nurses and physicians work together to establish a plan for pain control that starts with doses that control pain at the lowest doses possible with a variety of medications. They work hand-in-hand with the patient and family to determine what the goals for pain control are. They perform detailed assessments asking a lot of questions to help determine the best Plan of Care. They educate each step of the way on the medications ordered how they will help and what the side effects will be with their use. They also will educate on non-medication treatments such as energy conservation, breathing techniques, and behavior modification such as meditation or music to assist with comfort.
Although there has been a lot of bad press about the “Opioid Crisis” in the news, it is important to understand that it is not the same situation in Hospice. Patients who are seeking comfort from pain related to cancer or end-of-life issues are treated by professionals who specialize in controlling the symptoms such as pain, anxiety, and depression, all of which are often associated with pain. Overall, it is found that controlling pain at the lowest doses possible with the input of the patient and family have outcomes that often lead to more comfort at the end-of-life. When symptoms require higher dosing, the Hospice Team will work together with the patient, family and caregivers to determine how to continue to provide the comfort the patient and family require.
It is the goal of Grane Hospice to build a trusting relationship with the patient, caregivers, and family to help address comfort so that the important matters that the patient wishes can be attained as they are able.
Additional information on Comfort Care and Pain Medication use in Hospice can be found at the following websites. In addition, please reach out to Grane Hospice for any questions you may have.
National Institute on Aging https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/providing-comfort-end-life
Centers for Disease Control https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prescribing/guideline.html