Dealing With Pain
Just ask anyone and they will say that being in pain is one of their greatest fears. Even so, pain remains one of the most misunderstood parts of end-of-life care. As a result, many people suffer needlessly.
It doesn't matter if you are a young, healthy person or an older person nearing the end of life, pain is a great concern. In a 2000 survey conducted for Modern Maturity, most people want their pain lessened even if it means taking powerful drugs. This is especially important to terminally ill patients who wish to spend their final days pain-free and in comfort.
Being in pain affects every area of your life. In addition to having to live with the pain itself, pain may also cause:
- Disturbed sleep
- Impaired functional abilities
- Negative emotions, such as loneliness, sadness and worry
- Inability to enjoy simple pleasures
At Mom's Place we are our residents advocate when talking to their doctors about their pain, and how it can be controlled. There are many medications available today to help. There is no reason why, regardless of illness, people should not have their pain controlled.
Even though there are medications available to help all kinds of pain, some people have mistaken ideas that prevent them from getting relief. Among the myths people have about pain management and medicines are:
Addiction. People frequently worry that taking opium-based drugs, such as morphine, will cause them to become addicted. The truth is that there is little risk of addiction when these medications are taken properly and under a doctor's care. Instead of looking at these drugs as producing "mental fogs," individuals in pain should think of these medications as giving them back their lives so that they can enjoy their time with their loved ones.
Taking morphine means the end is near. The amount and types of medications depend on the level of pain assessed by us and reported by our resident. Doctors prescribe the mildest medication and will prescribe stronger medications, such as morphine, only when it is appropriate. Taking morphine does not mean death is near. It merely means that your pain level requires something stronger to help you feel less pain. Morphine will not shorten your life.
Pain is part of life. Often, patients are reluctant to discuss their pain with doctors because they feel that pain is just part of the illness and they must live with it. In particular, as reported in the AARP survey, women are thought to be more tolerant of pain and are less likely to report discomfort. This prevents many from receiving proper pain management and results in needless suffering and decreased quality of life.
Talking to Your Doctor
Even though many studies have shown that most people are hesitant to talk to their physicians about pain, talking to a doctor is the most important step you can take to get relief.
- By visually and verbally assessing our residents for any sign of pain, and how the pain is affecting his or her daily life.
We can paint a much clearer picture for our resident's doctor in evaluating his patient, by asking:
- Where it hurts
- When the pain started
- If the pain is constant or if it comes and goes
- If anything makes the pain go away, or makes it worse
Going to the Doctor
When our resident goes to the doctor, an up to date medicine chart is always available for the doctor to see. Before the doctor prescribes a medicine, he would check the chart for any negative interactions that may occur. In the event that we are not already familiar with the medication, we will note and be aware of any possible side effects, and how long before we will notice an improvement in pain containment.
We also ask the doctor about availability of a generic substitute and pass that information along to the resident's responsible party who decides whether generic or branded medicine would be the better choice. In most cases Mom's Place buys the chosen meds, advances the funds for it, and bills all medicines in the following month's invoice at our cost.