Comfort at the end of your family member’s life might seem unattainable, but it doesn’t have to be. There are still some things that you can do that will help more than you might realize.
Breathing issues can make your senior uncomfortable, but they can also be anxiety-inducing for her. She may be stuck in a particular position and that might make breathing more difficult. Try a few different positions, if she’s able, and use blankets and pillows to help prop her into those positions. Oxygen therapy may be something to consider, especially if she constantly feels as if she doesn’t have enough air.
It’s not uncommon at all for seniors at the end of life to experience digestive problems. Her activity levels have slowed way down and her relationship to food may be way different than it ever has been. Medication side effects, GERD, and even just eating too little and at unpredictable hours can all contribute. Try finding the foods that your senior still enjoys eating and work with her medical team to find solutions to other issues.
Temperature and Irritation
Your senior’s skin can be a tremendous source of discomfort. Temperature issues are a real concern. Your elderly family member may not be able to regulate her body temperature on her own anymore and that can cause her to experience discomfort. Fans, blankets, and anything that can help to cool her or help her to warm up is good to have around. Beyond that, it’s vital to pay attention to whether her skin is dry or whether she’s been in one position too long. Bed sores can become a problem very quickly and are better to avoid.
Fatigue is a big problem for people at the end of their lives. Your senior may want to be awake and alert a lot more than she is, but find it impossible to do so. Helping her to manage her activities, especially if she’s able to be mobile, can help her to pace herself a little bit better. Make sure that you reorient her when she unexpectedly slips into a nap, too. Gentle reminders like what day it is or the time of day can help her quite a bit.
Pain is something that is a lot more complicated, but you can still help your elderly family member to an extent. Experienced end of life care providers can help you to work with your senior’s doctors to determine a plan that will do the most good for her. You may even find that combining medical treatments with other therapies can be incredibly helpful.
It’s never easy to see someone you love dealing with discomfort. Try a variety of strategies and see what works for her.