When caring for a loved one who is experiencing pain due to an advanced illness, you may feel that there is no where to turn. Certainly you may feel stress over making the right decisions and safeguarding your loved one. You most likely have heard conflicting statements about pain associated with a serious illness, pain medications, and outcomes. Knowing the truth about these topics can empower you and your loved one with the ability to make wise choices.
Some of the most common myths about pain and palliative care are:
Myth: Use of pain medications will cause my loved to die soon.
False. Morphine can be easily titrated to manage mild to severe pain.
Myth: My loved one’s pain is a normal part of aging and dying.
False. Pain is not a normal part of dying. Your loved one’s pain is originating from a serious illness and can have many causes. Identifying and treating these factors can relieve your loved one’s pain.
Myth: My loved one’s physician will know when pain medication is appropriate.
False. Only your loved one will be able to accurately judge the amount of pain they are experiencing and determine when they need relief. Anyone who is experiencing pain has the right to have his or her pain addressed.
Myth: Palliative care will cause my loved one to die sooner
False. Morphine and other pain medications do not lead to death. Morphine is a safe and effective option for your loved one to address the severe or chronic pain that they are experiencing. Surprisingly, studies have shown that palliative care can increase the length of life in some patients.
Myth: My loved one must be in a hospital to receive pain medication.
False. Pain medication can be given in any environment, whether that means in the home, nursing home or inpatient hospice facility. Our nurses are trained in closely monitoring medication and their effects. They will, along with your physician, adjust medications to meet the patients pain management needs.
Myth: By choosing pain medication you are giving up hope for treatment.
False. By choosing pain medication you are addressing the pain as a symptom of your loved one’s illness. Pain medication can be used in conjunction with illness treatment.