Archive for September 2019

Difficult Decisions Associated with End-Of-Life Dementia

Posted on Sep 05, 2019

It can be easy to forget the terminal nature of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease because the patients can sometimes live for many years with such conditions. Caregivers should remember that these will ultimately result in death and that they should plan accordingly.

Difficult Choices

As dementia progresses, the patient will exhibit lowered cognitive ability, a significantly impaired memory, and the inability to make sense of relatively simple concepts. These impairments of the mind can make the patient’s ability to communicate their desires and express physical discomfort. It can be challenging to determine, for instance, if a loved one with dementia is refusing to eat due to their mental confusion or because of the naturally decreased appetite associated with the dying process. Likewise, it can be easy to confuse an expression of physical discomfort with aggression stemming from confusion.

Providing spiritual and emotional comfort for those with dementia can pose a challenging feat. Will a loved one understand how you feel about them? Will family members have their goodbyes understood by a grandparent with advanced Alzheimer’s disease? Will discussing precious memories provide comfort or further confusion and frustration? During these times, when family members and friends don’t know how to give support to a dying loved one with dementia, skilled palliative care and hospice professionals can be an immensely helpful bridge to patient comfort.

Providing Comfort Via Sensory Stimulation

One approach to providing comfort to a loved one with dementia is through more universal comfort zones — primarily soothing sensory inputs. Enjoyable music and sounds associated with nature can have a dramatically positive effect on the mood of these patients. Gentle massaging of the hands and feet can help to relax those experiencing discomfort and confusion. These sensory techniques are some of the most beneficial modes of providing comfort to those with dementia.

Determining Proper Ongoing Care

When nearing the end of life for an Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s patient, it is crucial to decide which treatment is going to provide the best possible quality of life. Some medications can delay symptoms for a while. Other drugs can limit some unfavorable behavioral problems. While this is the case, some caregivers may not feel comfortable administering medications intended for later-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Other concerns may be whether or not the drugs will, in fact, improve their quality of life or if they come with adverse side effects. When making treatment decisions, the positive and negative outcomes should be weighed to make the best decision possible. Ultimately, a caregiver may need to make the appropriate treatment decisions based on the ongoing condition of the patient — sometimes weighing extending life against increasing the quality of the time they have left.

For help navigating end-of-life care for loved ones with dementia, Cura HPC is here for you. We invite you to learn more about the experienced palliative and hospice care specialists from Cura HPC today.  

The Value of Practical Tasks for The Dying

Posted on Sep 03, 2019

When a loved one is going through the dying process, many of us tend to try to supply support in the most significant areas. Oddly enough, the dying may experience more stress about the coordination of everyday activities in their absence. Frequently, this is where you can provide the most assistance. 

Practical Jobs Can Make a Big Impact

As a loved one begins the dying the process, you’d imagine various sources of stress. Putting aside the existential, emotional, interpersonal, and spiritual issues that the dying may experience, managing day-to-day activities may be the source of the most uncertainty. Knowing that everything will be appropriately managed in their absence may be one of the most significant causes of relief that they may experience during the dying process. This is where you, a friend or family member of someone in the dying process, can offer immense support. 

Managing the Handling of Affairs

Among the questions the dying have, some of the most profound are the most basic. “Who is going to water my plants?” “Who is going to take care of my husband?” “Who is going to feed my dog?” “Who will pick up the children from karate?” “Who is going to make dinner for my family?” Though you’re likely not the medical professional making significant decisions about your loved one’s hospice or palliative treatment, where you can have a significant positive impact is by managing the day-to-day tasks that the dying person was once responsible for and where now worry. 

Accept Help Where Offered

If you are the primary caretaker of someone going through the dying process, do not feel the need to take on managing the physical and emotional needs of your loved ones in addition to all of the day-to-day activities. Other family members, friends, and community members will likely lend their services. While you may feel that their help will inconvenience them, realize that by allowing them to shoulder some of the day-to-day responsibilities, you are putting their minds at ease about your present state. Just as you may worry about all of the tasks that need to get done, they too worry about your ability to complete these tasks while also providing the emotional support where it is needed. By letting them help, you’re not only helping yourself, but you’re also helping them. 

Let the Professionals Help

When a loved one is going through the dying process, it’s normal to feel the need to do everything you can to ease their discomfort. While the help of family and friends is encouraged, realize your limitations. Understanding that you will also need help as well through this process. There’s no shame in embracing the help of experienced professionals during this time. 

For help in any matters relating to hospice and palliative care, look no further than Cura HPC. Learn more about Cura HPC today.

Types of Physical Discomfort Among the Dying

Posted on Sep 03, 2019

The dying process can be difficult and confusing not only for the one dying but for loved ones as well. As a loved one, you may not know what you need to be doing in order to make the dying process physically easier. Let’s take a look at areas of physical discomfort that can be managed during the dying process.

Managing Pain

As the body begins to shut down, some patients experience certain amounts of pain. Though not every death is a painful one, it’s completely normal to relieve pain through the use of prescribed medications. A palliative care specialist will know which medications to prescribe and their dosages. If the medications prescribed are not providing any relief, it is important to let your palliative care specialist know this for they can adjust the medications and/or dosages. 

Respiratory Issues

During the dying process, it’s not usual for a patient to experience shortness of breath. This difficulty breathing is called dyspnea and can sometimes cause anxiety. Some means of remedying this is shortness of breath include elevating the head, opening windows to increase the flow of fresh air, the use of a humidifier or a fan to move still air in the room. Some doctors may administer morphine or medicines that help to limit the feeling of breathlessness. As death nears, breathing may become very loud and labored. Though this can be quite startling to loved ones, it usually does not upset the patient. 

Digestive Issues

Towards the end of life, digestive problems such as nausea, constipation, loss of appetite, or vomiting are common. Though they mostly stem from the natural process of the body shutting down and energy being rerouted to life-sustaining organs in the body, some can be treated. It is important to speak to a nurse or other medical professional about these in order to ease discomfort. While a dying person may require help to eat if they desire to do so, do not have them eat if they do not want to. There is a certain point where eating may cause great discomfort or nausea, so do not be disturbed if the patient gives up food or drink almost completely.

Skin Issues

Skin can become unusually dry on the face, eyes, and lips before death. Lip balm, moist cloths, and alcohol-free lotions can help to soothe the skin. Offering ice chips and wiping the inside of the mouth with a damp cloth can help relieve dryness in the mouth. Sitting in one position for an extended period of time can cause bedsores, so it is important to change positions from time to time. Harder services such as railings can irritate elbows, hands, and feet, making foam padding a source of comfort. 

Though you may feel helpless to prevent the death of a loved one, helping them remain comfortable throughout the dying process can make all the difference — for the dying person and loved ones alike. 

If you’d like to learn more about palliative care and hospice services in Tulsa, OK, you’re invited to learn more about Cura HPC. 

Learn more and connect with Cura HPC Palliative & Hospice Care Services in Tulsa, OK today.

Caring For the Emotional Needs of the Dying

Posted on Sep 03, 2019

The full scope of care for someone who is dying would be incomplete without caring for one’s emotional needs. Some who are nearing the end of their lives may become confused, anxious, or even depressed. These feelings should never be discounted as side effects of the dying process but should be treated with the same level of diligence as anyone else experiencing such feelings. 

Seeking Assistance

While you as a loved one may be able to provide some relief by your presence and communication with the dying person, there may be times where a professional counselor may be necessary. These specialists can help the dying ease their anxieties and even depression. If the assistance of a mental health professional doesn’t prove to be as effective, certain calming medications can be administered. 

The Need to Remain Present

It can be hard to remain close to someone throughout their dying process. Even if someone is dear to you, it can feel too painful to experience with them. This is not uncommon. Even medical professionals have been known to withdraw from dying patients whom they were unable to completely treat. It’s important to remember just how much of a calming influence you can have during their last days. Rubbing their hands or feet, massaging their shoulders, talking with them about good times, or even just being with them are all immensely helpful. Always talk to them and never about them in their presence. Even if the dying person is unconscious, some medical professionals are of the opinion that there is a likelihood that the person can still hear you.

If you would like to know more about the palliative and hospice care professionals in Tulsa, OK, you’re invited to learn more about and connect with Cura HPC. 

Learn more about and connect with Cura HPC Hospice and Palliative Care today.