“Home Health Care Consultants | What Are End-of-Life Symptoms?” aims to shed light on some signs. These may indicate someone is nearing the last stages of life.
No one knows for sure the exact moment when anyone will take their last breath. However, the medical profession can pinpoint some of these signs. And, at times they can be fairly accurate.
Others outside of the medical field can also see visible signs of decline leading to imminent death. This is usually a very difficult period for everyone. But, individuals will process the event in their own way.
How Do You Define End-of-Life? | Elderly Care Concerns
What is end of life? And what does it mean for the elderly, in particular? Family members and workers in the healthcare field have to face this at some point.
“Age is just a number.” And, as that number gets higher, people tend to become more concerned. Moreover, this is true if those older individuals have certain health conditions.
However, end of life is applicable to everyone regardless of age. Life is uncertain. Therefore, a simple procedure gone wrong or an unexpected tragedy can change the course of one’s life to sudden death.
Furthermore, bear in mind that a person may go from one extreme to the other. For example, they may seem very close to the end at one point. Then, they make a sudden improvement.
On the contrary, this could give false hope when things turn around for the worse afterwards.
Let’s look at a scenario in the case of a home health care setting.
Home Health Care | An End-of-Life Elderly
In this example, the prognosis is for a 99 year-old male named John. He lives with his 70 year old son and 68 year old daughter-in-law.
John was in good health until a year ago when he started complaining about chest pains. He didn’t take it seriously at first. In fact, he thought it was just indigestion after eating out with his family one night.
Likewise, they had no idea it could have been anything else but that. They took him home, got him into bed and went to bed themselves. But, the middle of the night gave them a different story.
John was in excruciating pain and discomfort. All he could think of was he was dying. They rushed him to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with heart complications.
This was nothing to be taken lightly, especially at John’s age. His condition declined rapidly. And, within six months his family watched as things changed before their eyes.
They noticed the following changes:
- John didn’t have the energy to do most of the things he enjoyed doing previously.
- He was unable to stand for long periods or walk using his walker.
- His healthy appetite was now a mere fraction of what it once was.
- And, his sense of humor slowly dwindled.
- Also, his caregiver noticed the changes in his bowel movements.
- Furthermore, he was disoriented although he didn’t have any sign of dementia before all this happened.
- Finally, there was an obvious change in his breathing pattern. Sometimes it became alarming.
Fortunately, the family had the support they needed to take them through this journey. It didn’t take away the grief. However, they were well informed as to what was happening and what to expect.
Other Elderly Health Concerns | An Unpredictable End
Falling can also usher in end of life faster than expected. And, here’s another scenario. This time we’ll look at Eleanor. She was a 92-year old retired dressmaker who was blind and had diabetes complications.
Eleanor and her husband, Frederick, of 65 years lived together. They had a fulltime caregiver living with them Monday to Friday. Another caregiver lived in on the weekend.
Eleanor had a fall five years previously and broke her arm. Fortunately, that healed without a problem. However, another fall didn’t go as well. In fact, she ended up with a broken hip and was hospitalized.
Did her family suspect that this would have led to the end for her? No one did. And, it made the grief even more unbearable for the entire family.
Eleanor, looked forward to being back home with her beloved husband. He, too, anticipated her return home from the hospital. But, here’s what happened in a nutshell.
It was six weeks exactly to the date of admission to the hospital. The surgery was delayed because the doctors had to monitor other health issues first.
They had to stabilize her blood sugar level. Also, they discovered fluid on her lungs, and treated that. Eventually, the surgery was uneventful.
However, they discovered her body was rejecting the metal they inserted to support her fractured hip. Her body had become septic by the time they realized what was happening. Unfortunately, Eleanor didn’t make it home.
There was no obvious sign of an end-of-life predicament in this case. However, it’s a good indication that her age could have made things more complicated.
Obvious Symptoms | Declining Health and Changes
Here are some symptoms to look out for that may serve as guidelines. Some of this information came from a Hospice handbook, “A Caregiver’s Guide to the Dying Process.” So, what should you look for?
- Anxiety: This person may already have anxiety issues. However, you may notice an increase in panic attacks.
- Breathing: Irregular breathing is a natural change in an end-of-life individual. And, this may take various forms such as slower, faster, labored, or periods of no noticeable breathing.
- Confusion: A person may already be confused. But, this may become more frequent and intense.
- Eating: Eating can be a major concern. There’s fear the loved one will starve to death. However, it’s a very common and normal sign.
- Restlessness: It’s common to see signs of restlessness. This could be due to pain or discomfort. Close attention and proper pain management is vital at this stage of life.
- Sleeping: There may be changes in sleeping patterns. These include more time sleeping because of the desire to withdraw from others. It may also be due to weakness.
- Temperature: One’s body temperature may change from cold to hot or vice versa. It’s difficult to predict what it will be like despite the surrounding temperature.
- Toileting: Finally, here’s one area that usually doesn’t go unnoticed. Individuals may lose all ability to control their bladder or bowels at this point. They may also be embarrassed but is unable to do anything about it.
It’s important to ensure the comfort, dignity, and privacy of everyone who needs care. This includes end-of-life individuals. They’re usually incapable of helping or defending themselves.
Someone has to look out for them. And that someone may just be you. You may be all they have. So, it’s important that you make a difference in this part of their journey.
Conclusion | So, Is This the End?
Who really knows? But there are tell-tale signs. And, everyone doesn’t display all the signs and symptoms you may be looking for. However, there are certain guidelines that may help to prepare you.
In the meantime, pay close attention to possible changes taking place. In addition, get all the support you need from family members, friends, and medical team.
Most importantly, remember you have to take care of yourself in order to care effectively for another person. So, don’t compromise your health by neglecting your own needs. This could be detrimental and a sure way to burn out.
There have been cases where the caregiver ends up passing away before the end-of-life person they’re taking care of. This sometimes happens when one spouse is caring for the other.
I hope this article, “Home Health Care Consultants | What Are End of Life Symptoms?” has shed some light on the subject. It would be a pleasure to here your story.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. I will be more than happy to assist you.
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