What to Know About Giving Oral Morphine in End-Stage Dementia

Just because someone may be nearing the end of life is no reason for pain to be part of the experience. Oral morphine, prescribed by a physician, is often used in hospice and palliative care because it acts quickly and is and easy to give.

What's important to know:

  • Many people are distressed by the idea of morphine, but don't be put off by the idea of using a powerful drug. It's not going to hasten death in any way; instead, it will help your loved one rest more comfortably.

  • If your loved one's doctor suggests that oral morphine is a good option, use the medicine dropper provided to get an exact measurement.

  • You can dilute the morphine in a couple of ounces of beverage if you're sure your loved one will drink the whole thing. Otherwise, it's best to drop the slightly bitter liquid directly into the mouth and then follow immediately with ice cream or juice or another beverage to mask the taste.

  • Pain relief comes within 10 to 15 minutes and lasts for several hours.

  • Ideally, morphine should be used in conjunction with nonmedical comfort measures, such as touch, music, pleasant smells, and so on.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio