To ease mild pain in the early stages of dying, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, and adjuvant medications such as tricyclic antidepressants and muscle relaxants are useful, notes American Nurse Today. For moderate pain, patients can continue adjuvant drugs, and add opioids such as hydrocodone and acetaminophen, or oxycodone and acetaminophen. Severe pain can be treated with a continuation of adjuvant drugs, plus opioids such as morphine and hydromorphone. Other non-medicinal options are also available.
Skin irritation is a common pain symptom in old age, explains the National Institute on Aging. To help resolve this in a non-medicinal way, it is useful to apply alcohol-free lotion. A lip balm can help the frequent dryness of lips that occurs near death, while a damp cloth can alleviate some dryness in the eyes. If the person is conscious, ice chips can help a dry mouth; if a person is unconscious, it is useful to wipe the inside of their mouth with a damp cotton ball or cloth.
If breathing problems cause pain, opening a window, using a vaporizer, or having a fan circulating the air can alleviate some of the discomfort, according to NIA. Caregivers can provide as much medication as necessary within the doctor's recommendation without concern about drug abuse or addiction. Relieving pain is more challenging than preventing it, so maximizing dosages can be useful.