If you care for your loved one at home, you are an absolute hero!
If your loved one is in a home, as my parents were, it is a good idea to observe them carefully when you visit. As I’ve mentioned before, I was very happy with the home where my parents were, however the staff have many to care for and cannot always notice everything. So I found it helpful to look out for signs of other health issues and be generally observant to notice anything which could be improved. A kind of strange benefit of this is staying in the head, in the objective sphere to bring relief from the rampant emotions.
For example, on one visit my Dad was particularly disorientated and I remembered when my Mum was like that, the staff had found she had a urinary tract infection. Dementia sufferers can be prone to infection and uti’s because of dehydration. So I asked for Dad to be tested and it was found he did in fact have an infection.
Another example was after Mum passed, Dad often refused food. This was obviously due to his grief. But not only. After sitting with him at mealtime one day, I observed he had pain from his dentures and this was another reason why he did not eat. When his dentures were removed his face relaxed. I tried to resolve it with the dentist but unfortunately it wasn’t possible due to his gum recession and weight loss. So I advised the staff not to put his dentures in, and while it didn’t look too good, it helped him to be able to eat a bit more and be in less pain.
The following article is helpful regarding the various health issues to be aware of –
Between the two of them, my parents experienced all on the list.
The other big risk is falls. Both my parents death was triggered by a fall. Mum broke her hip after forgetting she used a walker. She died in hospital of heart failure before the op – her 94 yo body didn’t cope with a broken hip too well. Dad fell and hurt his hip and this triggered a rapid deterioration into the palliation end stage.
A lot of this journey is bitter with a little sweet mixed in. One of the ‘sweets’ was the ‘circle of life’. Where once my parents researched how to care for me, now it was me researching how to care for them.