Hospice care is the assistance given to those whose illnesses cannot be cured and who are in the last stages of life. Hospice programs offer medical services, emotional support and spiritual resources with the goal of keeping a person comfortable. Services can be provided in a person’s own home or in a nursing home or hospice center.
Hospice care provides an array of services, including counseling and social support, meal preparation, errand running, bathing services, medical supplies, and basic medical care. The program eases the burden of care for both the patient and family members. Typically, a family member services as the primary caregiver, but most care is provided by a team made up of doctors, nurses, social workers, aides, counselors, clergy, and therapists. The hospice team develops an individually-tailored care plan.
According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, an estimated 1.6 to 1.7 million patients in the United States received hospice services in 2014. Over 40 percent of hospice patients in 2014 were aged 85 years or older.
When a person is under hospice care, the focus of medical care is on pain and symptom control, rather than attempting to cure. Medications and basic services are provided to manage symptoms and access to a member of the hospice team is available 24 hours a day to help the person under care pass away pain-free and comfortably.
FINDINGS: EFFECTS OF CANNABIS ON HOSPICE CARE
Cannabis can help manage the pain, anxiety, spasms, nausea, and appetite and sleep problems that commonly affect those under hospice care.
Research has established cannabis effective for reducing pain. The major cannabinoids found in cannabis, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), have demonstrated efficacy at lowering pain levels that had previously shown refractory to traditional pain-relieving methods. Studies have also shown medical cannabis offers significant improvements in muscle spasticity, thereby offering relief.
Those under hospice care can struggle with the desire to eat, but studies have found that THC can significantly stimulate appetite. Cannabinoids have shown efficacy and regulating nausea and vomiting. THC has also shown to improve the quality and duration of sleep, allowing patients to fall asleep faster and wake up fewer times throughout the night.
STATES THAT HAVE APPROVED MEDICAL CANNABIS FOR HOSPICE CARE
Three states — Montana, New Mexico, and Vermont — have approved medical cannabis specifically for those under hospice care. Several other states will consider allowing hospice care patients access to medical cannabis, provided its recommended by a physician. These states include California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.
Additionally, nearly all states with comprehensive medical cannabis legislation allow cannabis for the treatment of pain. Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia have approved cannabis for the treatment of “chronic pain.” The states of Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio and Vermont allow medical cannabis to treat “severe pain.” The states of Arkansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, and West Virginia have approved cannabis for the treatment of “intractable pain.”
Seventeen states have approved medical marijuana for the treatment of spasms. These states include: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.
Also, 19 states have approved medical cannabis specifically for the treatment of nausea. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
In Washington D.C., any condition can be approved for medical cannabis as long as a DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.
Beneficial Cannabinoids and Terpenoids Useful for Treating Hospice Care
The following list denotes which cannabinoids and terpenoids work synergistically with each other for possible therapeutic benefit. It may be beneficial to seek out strains that contain these cannabinoids and terpenoids.
Americans For Safe Access Condition-based Booklets
These booklets summarize the history of medical cannabis and the recent research used to treat a variety of conditions, including Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Pain, Arthritis, GastroIntestinal Disorders, Movement Disorders, HIV/AIDS, and conditions related to Aging. (About Americans For Safe Access)
A Patient's Guide to Medical Cannabis
This guide for patients who use medical marijuana (cannabis) covers everything you need to know. Created by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a non-profit advocacy organization, this publication will help individuals who are using or considering cannabis treatments to better educate themselves, their families and their physicians. ASA has been developing information resources about medical marijuana (cannabis) for patients, their families, doctors, and elected officials for over a decade.
Cannabis has been found to help many patients suffering from conditions that afflict older patients, including arthritis, chronic pain, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and spasticity associated with such diseases as Parkinson’s.
Article: "How to Qualify for Medical Cannabis in New Mexico"
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