Facing the end of life is one of the most challenging things a person will go through. It is a painful and emotional time for the patient, family members, and caregivers. Fortunately, there are resources that can provide comfort and support for everyone involved. If you or a loved one are dealing with a terminal illness, you are probably curious about all your options. In this article, we will discuss the role of hospice care and how cannabis for hospice patients can help.
What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care is a service given to patients who are nearing the end of life. It focuses on making patients more comfortable and offers support during these final stages. Hospice is more of a philosophy of care, rather than a treatment. It addresses the whole person, rather than just the disease, focusing on improving quality of life. It supports patients and their families with a team of professionals who address things like pain, physical distress, and emotional and spiritual issues.
Hospice care also provides support for families and caregivers during the illness, and grief support after the patient passes. Patients turn to hospice care when their prognosis is less than six months, and other medical treatments have been exhausted.
If hospice care is recommended, it doesn’t mean that the patient is going to die in six months. It means their condition makes dying a real possibility. Hospice care helps a patient feel as comfortable as possible so they can focus on the things that are important to them.
What About Cannabis for Hospice Patients?
Hospice patients often struggle with diseases that make day-to-day living uncomfortable on a physical, emotional, or spiritual level. They experience symptoms like pain, shortness of breath, nausea, extreme fatigue, anxiety, and depression. The good news is medical cannabis can be used to ease many of these common end-of-life symptoms — with minimal side effects.
One of the primary goals during hospice is pain management. While medications like morphine are useful for relieving pain, they come with a list of unwanted side effects like constipation, agitation, and increased tolerance. Medical cannabis has been shown to ease pain and anxiety in patients at this part of their journey and can decrease the need for opiates.
Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of terminal illness. While there are medications that help, they can cause appetite suppression and make the patient feel weak and fatigued. Cannabis has been proven to help ease nausea and vomiting without suppressing a patient’s appetite. It can even work to stimulate the appetite, helping to counteract effects from other medicines.
Using cannabis for hospice patients can also benefit a patient’s mood and improve their overall outlook. THC can help lower stress and anxiety in some patients, and even promote feelings of euphoria. Not all everyone will tolerate THC well, but the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD can be very beneficial. It can help balance mood, and studies have shown that CBD decreases cognitive discomfort for people in emotional stress.
For patients who aren’t satisfied with other medications, or who are suffering from uncomfortable symptoms and chronic pain, cannabis could be the answer. While it won’t act as a magical cure-all, it can be an effective tool and add to the comfort that hospice care provides.
Are interested in learning more about how cannabis for hospice care? Visit our consultation page to schedule an appointment.