Managing Cancer Pain

Cancer patients should never accept relentless pain as their new normal! All pain can be treated, and even if not totally alleviated, it can be minimized with a comprehensive pain management plan administered by a top-notch caregiving team.

A consistent high level of care is needed for a pain management plan to be effective. Home health and hospice teams provide just that. Home care nurses are trained to recognize tolerance changes that occur as cancer progresses. It can be hard for patients to describe their pain, but It’s important that they convey as much about it as possible. Pain is easier to treat at the onset, and staying in front of it is the key to controlling it.

Patients should participate in their pain management plan by documenting their pain:

  • Where is the pain?

  • Is the pain worse during the day or at night?

  • Rate the severity of the pain, on a scale from 1 to 10 where 10 is the worst.

  • How does the pain feel: sharp, shooting, achy, burning, throbbing?

  • What makes it feel better: ice, heat, exercise?

  • What makes it feel worse: lying, standing, walking?

  • Does the medicine help the pain?

  • How long before you feel any relief after taking the medicine?

Cancer pain can be the result of the cancer itself or of any number of treatments. It can range from dull to sharp, and intermittent to constant. While the severity of cancer pain can vary widely, the frequency of home health visits helps nurses identify unreported symptoms and spot the onset of new site pain before it becomes intense.

A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, and educating patients about their disease and treatment options can be challenging, especially when they are still processing the news. Help your referral partners explain pain management and palliative care services to their new patients. Newly diagnosed patients who are informed about palliative care have an easier time embracing it as their disease progresses.

Always keep cancer care at the top of your marketing strategy but especially during September, National Pain Awareness Month. Highlight the benefits of in-home care for cancer patients with limited mobility, diminished immune systems, and sickness caused by treatments.

Visit TAGwebstore.com for home health and hospice patient education brochures and flyers, as well as referral building tools like our popular Guidelines for Hospice Admission Flip Chart.

Resources: cancer.org, cancernetwork.com

Battling Depression with Home Care

Most people think of Summer as bright, sunny, and pleasant, but someone suffering with a depressive disorder might think of it as dark, dreary, and oppressive.

Depressive disorder, depression, is a serious mental condition most commonly categorized by an acute loss of interest in life and a persistent despondency. Most everyone has incidents in their lives that cause deep sadness, but people who feel extreme sadness and overwhelming despair for an extended period of time are likely clinically depressed. Some factors that contribute to clinical depression include:

  • Chemical imbalances in the brain that adversely alter a person’s temperament.

  • Negative thinking which can increase the risk of depression.  

  • Gender: women experience depression more often than men.

  • Medications which can negatively affect mood and behavior.

  • Genetic predisposition: A family history of depressive behavior can increase the likelihood of developing it.

  • A traumatic life event such as death, divorce, or bankruptcy.

  • Serious illnesses:  cancer, heart disease, diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease cause emotional distress that can evolve into depression.

Home health and hospice provide patients and their families with medical and emotional support. Hospice teams in particular routinely deal with depressive disorder stemming from both traumatic life events and serious illness. Hospice teams include social workers, physiologists, and clergy who are trained to recognize and care for patients and family members suffering with depression. 

Remind your referral sources when making your presentations about the advantage of personalized home care for their patients at high risk of developing depression.

Visit TAGwebstore for patient education materials on specific conditions that contribute to clinical depression.

 

Resources:

ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)

Mental Health America

National Institute of Mental Health

3 Minute Depression Test

July is Bereaved Parents Month

The natural order of life is for children to outlive their parents. If that natural order is disrupted it creates a life shattering scenario that no one is ever prepared to face. Losing a child is perhaps the most devastating emotional trauma that anyone can experience. Palliative care specialists and hospice are a great source of support for parents caring for a seriously ill child, especially when their child’s diagnosis becomes terminal.

There have not been many studies dedicated to grieving the loss of a child. The research that has been done indicates that the psychological damage parents suffer does not heal over time.  They tend to experience intense sorrow and a display many of the characteristics of complicated grief. Simply defined, complicated grief is an unceasing despair that does not fade over time and interferes with a person’s ability to return to a normal life. Complicated grief requires professional counseling to overcome.

Common signs of complicated grief may include:

  • Intense lasting sorrow

  • Continued disbelief that their loved one is gone

  • Relentless preoccupation with their loved one's death

  • Extreme bitterness or anger

  • Obsession with reminders of their loved one

  • Sustained inability to enjoy happy memories of their loved one

  • Persistent longing for the deceased

  • Severe detachment

  • Excessive avoidance of reminders of their loved one

  • Compelling desire to join their loved one

  • Exaggerated distrust of others

  • Overwhelming hopelessness that life no longer has meaning

  • Escalating dread that interferes with the activities of daily living

  • Increased isolation from others and social activities

  • Displaced blame or an unrealistic idea that they could have prevented the death

Parents will try anything to save their child’s life, but when treatments are no longer effective, hospice care can ease the child’s discomfort and, in some cases, extend life. Hospice gives a terminally ill child the best possible quality of life while supporting distraught family members.

Take time this month to visit children’s hospitals in your service area to provide support for families facing the unthinkable.

Visit Tagwebstore.com for your hospice marketing media.

 

Related Resource: https://grief.com/books-on-the-loss-of-a-child/ 

Home Care and the Lung Cancer Patient

Home care is available for cancer patients in all stages of their disease, be it home health or hospice care. The majority of those patients are battling lung cancer. The American Cancer Society projects that over 140,000 people will die from lung cancer this year, making it by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women.

The prognosis for lung cancer can vary widely depending on the cancer type and the stage it is in when diagnosed. Lung cancer may be incurable, but it is almost always treatable. Home health care works with cancer patients who are home bound to provide supportive care and help with the activities of daily living.

Home health also provides help with:

  • Explaining the disease process

  • Counseling for patients and their families

  • Managing patient care

  • Observing treatment progress and advising when adjustments are needed

  • Educating about safety in daily activities and emergencies

  • Monitoring medications

  • Evaluating nutritional needs

Lung cancer patients typically have a team of doctors and specialists working together to eradicate their cancer. This collaboration usually consists of: thoracic surgeons, pulmonologists, palliative care physicians, and medical and radiation oncologists.

Much in that same way, hospice uses a team approach to treat patients. Hospice teams are made up of physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, counselors, therapists, volunteers, and chaplains. A cancer patient is generally eligible for hospice care when treatments are no longer effective, and their disease is determined likely to follow its normal path of progression.

Hospice care focuses on quality of life for the patient as well as their family. They minimize patient discomfort through symptom and pain management, while providing respite care, emotional support, and bereavement counseling for family members.

Reach out to the oncologists and cancer treatment centers in your service area with information on how partnering with home health and hospice can improve the quality of care for their cancer patients.

Help your referring partners address the many misinterpretations about hospice and the services they provide for terminally ill patients and their families by visiting the tagwebstore.com : The Real Truth About Hospice Flyer.

Introducing Hospice … kind words for overwhelmed families.

The grieving process often starts the moment someone hears the word hospice. No one is ever prepared to face the news that their loved one will not recover from their illness.  As a result, family members are often in a state of shock, bewilderment, or denial when they first meet with a hospice representative. Kind words, tissues, and enrollment are the beginnings of hospice care.

Simplifying hospice introduction and enrollment should be the goal of every hospice administrator, and any tool that can make the process easier on the patient, family, and the hospice representative is a must have.  

We offer beautifully designed hospice admission books ready for your branding that will convey your message of caring and give families a tangible guide to hospice care. These admission booklets provide you a professional, reassuring presentation as you gather the information required to enroll a patient. They include the necessary information such as service agreements, patient rights, privacy statements, home safety guidelines, and agency information; but they also provide caregiving information with answers to common questions. These books will be a resource for families to refer to throughout the hospice journey which continue long after their loved one’s passing.

Each member of your team will be confident and proud to display this book bearing your agency name to referral partners, peers, patients, families, and potential new associates. Contact us at 866-232-6477 for more information on how we can help you help others.

  

 “Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature's way of letting in only as much as we can handle.”  -- Elisabeth Kübler-Ross