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Medication Management

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Caregivers Providing Pain Management

by Jude Roberts, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 3)
 

One of the most frightening and stressful aspects of caregiving is not knowing what to do when your loved one is experiencing pain. Itís important to remember that there is actually no reason for this pain to go untreated or be ignored. It is usually more effective to treat pain earlier rather than later, when it might become more severe and be even more unbearable. Pain that goes untreated can lead to a major disruption in a person's ability to work, to deal with relationships, and with their view of the world in general. By recognizing the fact that under- and untreated cancer pain can lead to needless suffering, despair, and deeper depression, a caregiver has the ability to inform members of their loved oneís medical team and alert them to the severity of the pain. When youíre caring for someone who has this type of pain, you may be asked to: administer medication, including having to make decisions about what to give and when to give it; keep records of all medications given, including doses, quantities, and how often; encourage or remind the person about taking their medications; provide a number of non-drug interventions, such as massage, applying ointments and lotions, cold and heat, positioning and helping them with their mobility; help provide distractions, as well as emotional support.
 
Questions that you should ask the doctor regarding a loved oneís pain control plan include: How do I administer the medication? Can pain medicines in pill form be crushed or broken into halves or quarters? What do I do if the medicine wears off and the pain returns, but itís too early for another pill? What do I do if the pain doesnít go away, even though the pills are being taken as prescribed and as early as allowed? Can more medicine be taken, or should the doctor be called first? What happens if pain wakes them up in the middle of the night? What do I do if a dose is skipped by accident? What can I do for breakthrough pain? What side effects should I watch for and when should I call for professional help? What can be done for side effects? Who can help me in getting answers to any or all of these questions? Sometimes, you may be able to have a nurse come to your home and assist with some of these tasks, and teach you how to manage the pain control plan. Some insurance companies will pay for an RN to come to your home and help monitor the situation. You can check to see if you are able to receive this kind of help by checking with the doctor, social worker or with the insurance company itself. Also, one of the most important things to know is whom to call when you have a problem or concern, during and after office hours. Knowing this may help to alleviate some of your own stress, especially if you donít feel as though you have to make all of the decisions.


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