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Mom (78) has been in and out of hospital and rehab facilities for months now -has back pain due to compression fractures-she also had covid. She’s very frail and has a feeding tube now-muscle atrophy and osteoporosis but no other chronic condition.


She’s in a group home assisted living facility now-and she is starting to walk again and dress herself but she complains constantly of pain. They tried gabapentin and she is using Tylenol-and on an anti anxiety drug. I fear that she has built up a tolerance to norco (opioid) and needs more. They offered her morphine- I don’t like the idea of my mom being on morphine and I’m not ready for my mom to be addicted to pain killers. However, many have suggested she already is addicted. Is it really fair of me to suggest she not be put on morphine?


I think she has built up a tolerance to the norco and it’s just not working anymore. She has asked for morphine multiple times when she leaves the hospital and first enters rehab-it’s very typical-and they don’t give it to her (they did in the hospital).


I really like the care she is getting and the place is very communicative -this was not the case previously. they asked me if it is ok to give her morphine-they are involving me in the decision process.


Her primary care doctor won’t prescribe any more opioids-she is concerned about addiction. She is no longer using her primary care doc since she is now Under the care of the assisted living doc.


She has been through a lot- she fell from the hospital bed the very first time she was in the hospital-this led to a lot of her current issues. She’s been uncomfortable for months-and depressed.


Does it really matter at age 78 whether she is addicted to pain meds? Is the goal just to make her comfortable and happy? She doesn’t have cancer or any underlying condition. She used to be on very little medication prior to this whole experience. My personal approach is less medication, fewer tests, minimal doc visits-but this is me and my approach to health care for myself-is it really fair to use this approach for my mom?

By all means let her have the morphine. There is no need for her to suffer because someone else is addicted. She is not going to become an addict, she can barely get around now. My wife (age 87) has been on morphine because of her back for several years now and there have been no problems.
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Rafaela Aug 22, 2020
I agree 1000% with your first two sentences OldBill!
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My dad, now 90, has cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, blown out knees, etc. Other drugs worked for quite awhile, but don’t now. I fought against using morphine, but it’s the best thing for him. With the lowest dose needed he feels no pain, isn’t sleeping all the time (I’d feared) and is not having constipation. He gets a minimal dose 4x day and is a new man! Technically he probably is addicted, But he’s able to live w/o crippling pain and enjoy what’s left of his journey. The nurses will have you document how your parent responds to it. I’m now a believer! Good luck.
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sunshinelife Sep 3, 2020
it was the best solution you knew of at the time...there are others..with all due respect...
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I Have a friend on the morphine drip and it seems to help her with chronic nerve pain. She also has morphine lollipops and for some reason I continue to find that funny (I have an active imagine). I believe in making our LO as comfortable as possible.
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Just want to add that any medications, including methadone, could be dangerous to the elderly. My mother had very competent medical care who knew what they were doing and very experienced with medications. I went in with my eyes open and also did much research myself.

Having my mother on methadone gave her two years of a comfortable life. There were no adverse reactions for her. I know it is different for each individual. I was happy to have had her pain free for those two years. She still would have been here if it wasn't for the Covid virus that took her away in May.

It is a personal decision and as long as you can trust the people who are taking care of her.
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Ahh Morphine. After taking my MIL home from ALF and then Memory care and all her falls, and trying to get her to sleep at all, the hospice nurse recommended Morphine with her sleeping pills. She also has a broken hip which is inoperable at 99!years of age. I am not exaggerating when I say neither of us has slept more that 2 hours this week. Last Night I gave her a small dose of morphine liquid and her sleeping pills. We each slept soundly for 9 hours. Not a stir! I am super excited and hope this continues. Please, if someone recommends it, try it. Pain is no fun what so ever.
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So happy that you are included in the decision-making process. So many times we are left out. That shows her current living arrangements are in her best interest!

Does it really matter if someone is addicted to a medication if it works? We talk about addiction to opioids, but leave out all the other addictive meds. My granny was addicted to a med, and when the doc changed it all hell broke loose - we argued and my stance was "Who cares - at her age what harm is it really doing?" The doc relented and put her back on the med.

Your mom should be as pain-free as possible. I fractured my back in three places and can tell you back pain has an effect on quality of life and I do not worry about being addicted to the opoid - better to be addicted and comfortable than not addicted and totally miserable!
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I would ask what is her quality of life without the pain medication? If she’s able to be pain free and happy, is that more important than the worry of her being addicted to pain medication? Best wishes.
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There is a difference between addiction and dependence. A person with diabetes is dependent on insulin; you would never say they are addicted. Proper medically prescribed opioids give some relief to a person with chronic irreversible pain - that's it. Even if you want to call it addiction - so what? The important question is not what you feel comfortable with but what your mother needs. She obviously has pain which is medically justified. For the most part only those who experience serious, chronic, debilitating pain should make the decision to take opioids. They are the only ones that truly understand the devastating physical, mental, and emotional toll pain takes.

The government has done a good job of convincing everyone that all opioids are bad; they are not. You mentioned she is taking gabapentin and Tylenol. You need to be aware that the FDA has issued a 'black box' warning on gabapentin because of the extremely negative side effects many people have experienced and often it has no effect on the pain. Further Tylenol causes over 500 deaths (probably a lot more) a year. And it shouldn't be taken by anyone with liver problems and it also isn't very effective for pain for most people. Opioids are far safer.

It definitely sounds like she has not received ENOUGH opioids to deal with her pain. Once she reaches that level, it's unlikely she will require more - that's also another 'addiction' myth. Those who take opioids to relieve pain do not feel euphoric, they only feel some relief from the constant nagging pain. Addicts on the other hand, keep seeking more and higher doses of anything because they are addicted to the euphoric high. There are many studies that show what the true addiction and overdose rates are - less than 1.6% of those with valid opioid prescriptions die of an overdose. And the majority of people who do overdose are younger, taking multiple opioids, and the majority of the time it includes heroin and illegal fentanyl from China. If you wish, I can email you that research so you feel more comfortable.

My mother had received opioid pain medications for years because of her spinal injuries. When she went into hospice care at 93, the doctor stopped all of her opioids 'cold turkey'. She suffered a cruel and unnecessary death 18 months later. I appealed but the doctor convinced her health plan that patients with dementia feel no pain. She called me everyday and cried her heart out but there was nothing I could do. You should be thankful that the facility cares enough to provide your mother with the proper medications to comfort her in her last days. Give her whatever she needs to feel comfortable.
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FlamingMamie Aug 26, 2020
Carol, I'm in the same fix as your mother was. I'm still at home and suffering terribly daily. My back is the result of many falls, accidents, etc., throughout my life. I got hit by a car, fell off a motorcycle and was dragged up a hill when I was in the 5th grade, fell and broke my right foot 3 times, etc. They replaced the right knee, which worked well, thank God. But now I'm 78 and trying to attend online seminary but the back pain is hindering my ability to spend time at the computer.

Did you consult any government officials?
Thank you,
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My 74 YO mother has a bad hip and they cannot do the surgery. She has been on 15mg extended release morphine 2 times a day for 4 years. We ‘ve been told that this is a very low dosage. She understands that she might be addicted, but she is doing great. Aside from often being sleepy, she is happy, not loopy, and functioning well.  She uses a scooter to get around, but is living independently. In the beginning she had been on a higher dosage, but then started taking 500mg of Turmeric 2 times a day along with the morphine. She was able to then cut back the morphine by 1/3.  
Find a provider who will work with your mother to lower her pain levels. She will be a new woman. Good luck.
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sunshinelife Aug 23, 2020
Thankyou...Ive been saying the same regards tumeric Pain is caused by inflammation. which is in turn (in chronic cases) causes by systemic acidity. Tumeric works nicely to reduce inflammation. Thereby reducing/eliminating pain. Comfrey root tea works nicely also. Tumeric is a food, not a drug..so you can use as much as she needs to be comfortable with no risk of side or after effects. You could include Kratom powder to wean her off the tail end of morphine if she wishes. And Potassium Broth (avail on google) to alkalize the body & give lots of much needed easily absorbed minerals.
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I would probably just let her try the morphine to see if it helps. I’m in a similar situation with my mom. She’s in constant pain. Tried Tramadol, Gabapentin, Steroids, pain patches-nothing worked. Her PCP won’t prescribe Opioids bec he doesn’t want her to get addicted! She’s 78 as well and in the end stage of dementia. My theory is does it really matter if they become addicted if it helps their pain? God bless you, the devious we make are really tough sometimes. Keep me updated please.
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Rafaela Aug 22, 2020
is your mom on hospice? Surely they would arrange for her to have morphine. I’ve found that some doctors are very nearly terrified of their patients getting addicted to opioids, because of all the bad press. I discovered with my husband, who had FTD, that Medicare wanted him tested every so often to make sure the hydrocodone was in his system. You might want to check around with area hospices and see if there’s not one that would be more compassionate and accommodating than your mom’s PCP. Best wishes to you both.
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