Agitation vs. Sedation

December 7, 2009


Agitation can be one of the worst symptoms to encounter at the end of life. Most in the field refer to this kind of restlessness as terminal agitation or terminal restlessness. It can be extremely difficult to treat. Not only can this be very distressing for the person ill, it is very difficult for the family.

When someone has this condition, some of the following is seen: picking in the air, at clothes or at *his skin, trying to get out of bed and then wanting

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Got Hospice?

February 13, 2009

got-hospice1.jpgI wanted to revisit a study that came out 2 years ago (in case any of you missed it). I remember I had been looking for quite awhile for a study that would validate what we know in hospice–that if you come into hospice sooner, you have a good chance of living longer.

There was not one. The closest I came to was an article written by a doctor stating another doctor Read more

Palliative Care for Dementia

January 18, 2009


Here’s a great resource for people who are dealing with a family member or patient with advanced dementia–Palliative Care Dementia Resources. It separates the resources by topics and is easy to follow.

To me, some of the most disturbing symptoms of dementia are emotional and mental pain. It can be devastating for everyone, but not as much as for the person who is sitting with that kind of discomfort. Medical professionals are getting better with the physical manifestations but when it comes to emotional anguish, we don’t do so well. The reasons for unsuccessful treatment are varied. People who are close to the person, either personally or professionally, are very passionate in their views about how to handle it. It makes it hard to have an open mind.

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Morphine and breathing

October 1, 2008

lungs1.jpgMorphine is one of many drugs that is used to treat moderate to severe pain and also it is used to treat shortness of breath. Not many people know that.

In hospice medicine we use it all the time for both and it is one Read more

What Do You Hope For?

August 26, 2008

elderly-man-staring-out-window.gifA cure is one thing in which to hope. If it is our time to die, what do we hope for then?

Hope for physical comfort. The fatigue, pain, shortness of breath and nausea (among other symptoms) we see or experience can be demoralizing. Know that it is possible to live with minimal pain and discomfort. Just like in anything else we choose, there will most likely be trade-offs. Just know you have a choice. There is always something we can do, always. You may not like the options Read more

Palliative Care for the Soul

July 6, 2008

rainbow.jpgThere’s some snobbery in a person judging if another person is in denial, don’t you think?

Sitting around tables we shake our heads or we tsk-tsk or the like because some unfortunate soul is not coming to terms with their own death or with that of their loved one. How rude.

Suffering, hope, depression, grieving, coping, etc. have faces and nuances we don’t always recognize or understand in people. To cope with hope…. Read more

The Palliative Bridge

May 10, 2008

bridge_photos_23.jpgThe palliative care movement is the bridge from which research, findings, information and practical applications can flow back and forth between the 2 worlds (of acute care and hospice care) we have now. Palliative care is the vehicle to blend these worlds.

Moving hospice information up to the pre-hospice world of serious illness… Read more

Look at the Hand

May 5, 2008


I was working as a case manager with a local hospice when my grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was in her late 70s, had been smoking for 60 years and had dealt with severe bouts of chronic bronchitis most of her life. The day she entered Read more

Dying to Breathe

April 27, 2008


Regarding medical care, we are in technological wonderland in some areas and in others we are still behind. Regarding the management of dyspnea, (dyspnea is shortness of breath), we haven’t done so well Read more

A Breath In, A Breath Out

April 5, 2008

elderly-man-wheeling-down-hospital-corridor-in-wheelchair-with-oxygen-eca_006.jpgHave you ever seen someone struggling to breathe as part of their illness? I’m referring to people living with ‘end stage’ lung or heart disease or advanced cancer with breathing difficulties.

Living with end stage illness or late stage cancer does not necessarily mean you are terminal. Often, a person is not. Read more

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