Near the end of your family member’s life some of the normal functions that she’s taken for granted can become way more difficult for her. Breathing is one of those most basic functions, and when she can’t breathe well, your senior may panic. Here are a few ways to help.
Prop up the Head of the Bed.
Lying flat can make breathing more difficult and using pillows to prop up can be complicated. If your senior has an adjustable bed, try raising the head of the bed a little bit higher than the rest of the mattress. If that isn’t possible, you still have options. Take a couple of small pillows or a wedge-shaped pillow and use those between the mattress and the box spring at the head of the bed. You can always add another pillow if the angle isn’t high enough and the pillows are less likely to shift around with this placement.
Keep Air Circulating.
Still air feels stuffy and can feel a little bit more difficult to breathe. Finding a way to circulate some air can help so very much. Just opening a window a tiny bit can be enough, but you might also want to consider turning on a ceiling fan or using a small oscillating fan. Keep the overall temperature in mind as well as your senior’s ability to regulate her body temperature. You might want to have a blanket handy just in case she gets a little cool.
Ask about Medications.
Some medications or even oxygen therapy could help your senior to feel that she’s able to breathe better. Hospice care providers can help be the liaison that you need to explain what’s going on and to get the right solution started for your senior. Some of the medications that your senior takes for other issues could complicate her breathing, so it’s important to weigh the benefits and the risks.
Encourage Her to Take Her Time.
When your elderly family member is already experiencing shortness of breath even the simplest activities can give her more trouble. Encourage her to take her time and not to rush anything. Even talking can sometimes cause her to become winded, so it’s important for her to slow down and let everyone wait for her to be ready.
Hospice care providers can help you to determine what else might help your family member to breathe better. Try a combination of solutions to see if you can land on the right ones. Keeping calm while you’re solving this problem can help your family member to stay calm and that will ultimately reduce panic, which can make breathing problems worse.
If you or your aging loved one could benefit from End of Life Care in Holly Hill, SC, contact the caring staff at Grove Park Hospice, (803) 536-6644