“I found that when I didn’t have pain, I could forget I had cancer” – Cancer patient
Chronic or excessive pain does not need to be part of aging, healing, or dying, a fact that Timothy Corbin, M.D. expressed to a crowd of nurses and social workers who gathered to learn more about alleviating pain.
“Sometimes pain relief medications have scary names, which makes family members or patients want to avoid them,” explained Dr. Corbin. But the fear is needless, he commented.
Dr. Corbin is a hospitalist and palliative care consultant with Scripps Memorial Hospital, Encinitas, and he’s also Regional Medical Director of The Elizabeth Hospice. He spoke at a continuing education seminar for nurses, social workers, fiduciaries and nursing home administrators. The seminar was held at Aviara Healthcare Center in Encinitas and was sponsored by Aviara and At Home Care Solution.
Dr. Corbin explained that pain is the most common symptom of illness, and that unrelieved pain interferes with healing and diminishes quality of life. Sadly, he said that many dying patients continue to suffer from unrelieved pain during their last months of life. He also pointed out a 2007 Meta-Analysis which found pain present in 64% of patients with advanced cancer. Additionally, he sited a JAMA study which said that 25% of long term care patients who complain of pain receive no treatment.
The good news is that most pain during the terminal phase of life can be controlled relatively easily. Dr. Corbin cited prescribing Morphine on a 24 hour schedule as one of the basic techniques of pain control in a palliative setting.
One common concern about morphine at the end of life is a fear of addiction, which Dr. Corbin called an undue concern. He pointed out that physical dependence is an expected result of long term use but should not be confused with addiction.
He recommended increasing the dose of pain medications if they don’t start working within a short period of time and said that the types of medications given should increase in strength if the first options do not provide relief.
The nurses, social workers and fiduciaries in the audience appreciated learning about how to advocate for their patients and clients who are suffering with pain.
At Home Care Solution is a California approved provider of continuing education. We would like to thank Aviara Healthcare Center, Dr. Corbin, and The Elizabeth Hospice of Escondido for providing this important information on elderly pain management as a service to our community. Contact us or read our blog to learn more about the importance of medication management for seniors.