Myth #3: Hospice is only used to manage pain at the end of life
October is American Pharmacists Month. All month long we are sharing education, debunking myths, offering resources and providing tips that can help improve an individual’s quality of life, from our very own PGY2 Pharmacy Resident, Dr. Hanna Hollingsworth. Hospice of Southern Illinois, in collaboration with SIUE School of Pharmacy, has 1 of 18 total PGY2 Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacy Residency Programs in the country and the only accredited one that is fully funded by a hospice. Learn more about our PGY2 Program and all the benefits it offers to individuals, families, and your care team: https://hospice.org/pharmacy-residency-program/. Find out ways to participate in festivities or celebrate your pharmacist by clicking the link: October is American Pharmacists Month.
While pain management is an aspect of patient care in hospice, it is far from the only service provided. Other symptoms that hospice health care providers manage for patients include nausea and vomiting, constipation, urinary issues, anxiety, insomnia, wounds, dry mouth, and excess secretions, (just to name a few). Every patient has a unique set of needs, which may be impacted by factors such as their primary diagnosis, additional acute or chronic illnesses, and their progression through the dying process. The hospice care team vigilantly tailors patient care, symptom management, and medications as new concerns or issues arise.
For example, certain medications for anxiety and mood may cause dry mouth as a side effect. There are various options that exist to address the dry mouth including changing the anxiety/mood medication to a drug less likely to cause the side effect. Alternatively, one could continue the medication and treat the dry mouth separately such as by having the patient chew gum, suck on sour candy, or place a few drops of lemon juice on their tongue to stimulate saliva production. Often, the patient or their primary caregiver can assist us in the decision-making process to pick a route of treatment that is most satisfactory.
Additionally, hospice care does not end when the patient passes away. Grief services are available to loved ones at the time of death, even before death occurs, and for 13 months after the loss of a loved one if needed. Bereavement counselors can provide their services either in person or over the phone as needed or as requested. Counselors can also connect you to helpful and supportive programs and provide free resources, such as listings of grief groups or local clubs in the area.
Learn more about hospice care: www.hospice.org/ourcare/