As cliché as it sounds, life is way too short for pain. This is true for people in hospice situations and true for people battling other health conditions: no one should have their quality of life or valuable time with loved ones limited or diminished by excessive pain.
At Above and Beyond Home Health Care, this is also our philosophy, and our trained, personable staff constantly focuses on doing everything we can to help our patients in the Cedar Rapids area with their pain levels, whether it’s providing direct care or working with other providers and specialists who are also eager to focus on effective pain management strategies.
Taking extra effort to avoid or reduce chronic pain is becoming an increasingly popular approach in modern medicine. Larger numbers of local, state and medical organizations and associations are encouraging their members to look for ways to educate their patients and minimize pain levels as much as possible, whether through medication management, or even alternative/complementary therapies like acupuncture or massage.
Because this philosophy continues to spread to many different disciplines, a larger number of medical professionals are beginning to compare notes as to the value of different best practices and approach. This can potentially lead to better care and more options.
This has also led to the creation of Pain Awareness Month, where the entire month of September has now been dedicated to provide support to those battling chronic pain, offer encouragement to medical professionals who deal with patient pain regularly and highlight useful pain resources in communities.
Pain Awareness Month
The month-long campaign originated in 2001 by the American Chronic Pain Association, an organization that offers peer support and education to help people manage pain better and to take a philosophy of pain as a public health issue seriously.
Over the years, the campaign has grown in terms of community support and partnerships, and today, it’s not just patients, their families or providers who are involved anymore. There are now all sorts of medical organizations, plus lawmakers in different states, local and national media, plenty of civic groups and many other advocates throughout the country.
It doesn’t stop there – ACPA-affiliated support groups can be found not just in the U.S. but Canada and Western Europe. ACPA-sponsored reading material about pain management is used by providers on a large scale.
The group’s collective approach to pain management continues to grow beyond physical chronic pain as well. In 2003, the national “Partners of Understanding Pain” workshop and conference, which is tied into the month’s activities, identified several key issues of pain, including pain in the workplace, pain and culture, pain in the family, pain in underserved communities.
It also emphasizes that pain can exist everywhere, and encouraged providers not to dismiss patients who describe pain as “all being in your head.”
The activities and programming during the month of September have continued annually, with support from people in government, nurses, pharmacists, medical centers and private offices plus patients and caregivers as well.
Today, the month’s activities and interested parties have attracted dozens of organizations, including civic groups, support groups, athletic groups, educational groups, and more.
Taking part in Pain Awareness Month activities is as easy as browsing the ACPA site and learning about different health conditions and ways to reduce pain, including different medications and clinical trials.
Local pain relief
Though the evolving and increasing national attention about chronic health conditions is commendable, what does it mean at a local level? What about the person under hospice care in the Cedar Rapids area? Will she or he be able to receive appropriate care and attention to their pain levels?
Hopefully the answer will be yes! Hospice care places less emphasis on curative approaches, and more on creating quality care in a patient’s final days.
Finding the right pain medication can work wonders, especially in a hospice setting. According to the American Hospice Foundation, someone in tremendous amounts of pain may be barely able to function, let alone interact with others. They’ll be more prone to depression and their immune system will be weakened. But if a medication plan is created, whether it’s regular doses through the day or even longer-term patches, a patient will be more able to interact with others, be able to focus on making important decisions and be less distracted by pain.
Many hospice patients are often prescribed opiates, which are effective at reducing pain levels for many health conditions. These narcotics are considered highly addictive and may cause damage over prolonged use, but can offer short-term solutions for people with moderate or severe pain, such as cancer.
So in hospice cases especially, narcotics can be an option that should be discussed by a patient, a provider, and any caregivers.
Other home health care services can also help reduce pain and decrease stress, including massage therapy.
There’s no universal treatment for pain, since every person’s levels and medical conditions are different. But patient-focused organizations like Above and Beyond Home Health Care are flexible enough that they can adjust as needed. The staff is also always happy to discuss hospice and general care options with patients and family members.