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What Is End-of-Life Pain Management?

If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you’ve seen how much pain it can cause. These illnesses can create pain that takes precious time away from individuals who are nearing death. Instead of taking their last few weeks to spend time with friends and family, patients with terminal illnesses are distracted by pain. 

One study found that two-thirds of patients with cancer in hospice and more than 50% of patients with other chronic diseases experienced pain. 

The primary goal of hospice care is to help your loved one get the most out of life, not spend it suffering. Hospice care utilizes palliative care and pain management to achieve this goal. If your loved one is considering hospice, keep reading to learn more about palliative care and pain management.

What is pain management?

Pain management is a strategy that healthcare organizations implement to help patients overcome the symptoms of their illnesses so they can maintain a higher quality of life. Pain management isn’t limited to hospice. Many treatment plans combine palliative medicine with curative medications to lessen their side effects. 

Hospice care utilizes pain management to help patients feel better and make the most of their final days.

Pain management: What is hospice medication protocol?

Hospice teams make regular assessments to see how the patient is feeling. Checkups are essential to make sure the current pain management regimen is working for your loved one. The team nurse performs these routine checks. 

Directing physicians and team nurses determine hospice medication protocols. Medication isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for pain management. The same illness can affect two individuals differently. Hospice teams will work to find the best pain management plan for your loved one’s symptoms.

Hospice care implements a variety of pain management strategies to help your loved one feel their best. While not all pain management is through medication, like massage and physical therapy, most patients in hospice use medication to alleviate symptoms of their illnesses. Some of the most commonly used palliative medicines include:

  • Opioid therapies bind to opioid receptors in the brain and other parts of the nervous system to reduce the pain signals and feelings of pain. Opioid treatments treat intense pains. 
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) block the production of certain body chemicals that cause inflammation. NSAIDs are less potent than opioids but work well for specific illness side effects. 
  • Acetaminophen is a well-known pain reliever, most commonly referred to as Tylenol. Patients use acetaminophen for mild-to-moderate pains versus opioid therapies that are used for severe pains.

Common misconceptions about hospice pain management and palliative care

Unfortunately, some patients and caregivers are hesitant about pain management because of misconceptions about medications hospices use. Here are three of the most common misconceptions about pain management:

  1. Opioid treatment will cause my loved one to become addicted. All medicines prescribed to patients are under the close watch of the hospice medical director and resident nurse. Dependence rarely happens due to the short window of time your loved one will take the medication. 
  2. Pain management medications will cause my loved one to become groggy or “out-of-it.” While all medications have side effects, hospice care is designed to help patients get to a comfortable level, not impairing their thinking. Hospice care will only give the necessary amount of medication.
  3. Pain management medication will hasten my loved one’s death. Pain management and palliative care don’t cause an illness to progress faster. Patients often live longer while using pain management treatments due to their higher quality of life and lack of pain.

If you are looking for excellent hospice care that uses the best pain management practices, contact Crown Hospice of Cape Girardeau and Poplar Bluff today. We offer outstanding care, state-of-the-art techniques and team members that care about you and your loved one. 

Still considering which hospice care organization you should choose for your loved one? Visit our services and FAQ page for more information about hospice care?

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If your loved one is eligible for hospice care, don’t wait to find a program. Hospice care will provide your loved one with comfort, care, and support.