People in hospice care are in unique situations, medically. Yes, they have some sort of terminal condition and a fairly finite estimate of how much time they have left to spend time with loved ones and get all of their personal and financial affairs in order.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that residents of Cedar Rapids and elsewhere are in poor day-to-day health. They may feel good and have energy, and also don’t have to follow as stringent medical restrictions as when before they entered hospice care.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice work with people at all stages of the hospice program. Some clients feel relieved that they no longer have to follow strict doctor’s orders, which they were supposed to when he or she was trying to help them heal. They may enjoy a sense of freedom eating and drinking what they want, which also can coordinate well with their efforts to get some extra good times in before the end.
But there are some limitations to this. They more than likely have health conditions that can limit their plans to party hard until the end. They may now have a weak immune system that could make them more susceptible to infections, colds, or the flu. Even if getting a cold or flu isn’t supposed to kill them, it could make them feel miserable and limit their activities for a few days, or even longer.
Because of their terminal condition, many may have less energy. They also may be in more physical pain or require certain medications which can both slow them down.
People receiving hospice care also may need assistance, especially as their bodies begin to slow down. A caregiver or a home health aide may be recommended, either with regular visits or even 24-hour care. This could be based on the client’s physical and mental state and the rate of their decline. If mobility problems begin increasing, a health care provider or a caregiver may want to suggest different tools to assist them, like canes or walkers. They also can connect them with occupational therapists who can evaluate their homes for possible risks, as well as offer strategies to perform basic tasks
Many people on hospice care are interested in being as independent as possible, for as long as possible, which may mean not having to relocate to an assisted living center.
This means that people should take steps to keep themselves safe or at least be able to alert others in case something can happen. At the same time, caregivers should brush up on their senior care skills as well as basic first aid skills. They should plan a walk-through with the client and imagine scenarios where help is requested and needed. This way, they won’t potentially be overwhelmed if a tragedy happens.
Some areas where a caregiver or aide might need to help or call for help include:
- Falls are the second-highest type of unintentional death across the whole globe according to the World Health Organization. Traffic collisions are the first. Falls can cause serious injury as well as death. They could be severe enough that larger changes to someone’s life might be needed, such as moving to a rehabilitation program due to a broken hip. A caregiver should try to find a way to be contacted quickly if a serious fall occurs. They should also know the rules of how to respond to someone medically who is unconscious and injured. A caregiver also should encourage someone to get checked out, even if they say they’re safe and they don’t want to bother anyone. Some concussions or broken bones may not be noticed right away, or at all, so damage may go unresolved.
- Blood loss. Knowledge of how to stop bleeding is vital. A person could cut themselves accidentally, such as when they’re working in the kitchen or a studio. Some cuts are beyond a simple Band-Aid fix, so more serious intervention is needed, including anti-coagulant powder. Caregivers can learn how to work with larger bandages or compresses or tourniquets.
- They may encounter a client who isn’t bleeding and who hasn’t fallen, but still, medical attention should be in order. They might need to provide CPR or similar life-savings methods if the person isn’t responding. They also should call 911 and give accurate descriptions of the client’s appearance and symptoms.
- Upset stomach. Various medical conditions, interactions with medications, or stress, in general, could make someone nauseous to the point of throwing up. A caregiver needs to stay calm, make sure the person is resting comfortably, isn’t going to choke, and is prepared for future vomiting. They may need to call 911 as well to share other symptoms.
For those who want to learn more, this is a good month. September includes World First Aids Day, which took place Sept. 11. It encourages people in countries around the planet to learn these skills in the event that they can help others.