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A Stint in Hospice

In March 2021, Bob's doctor suggested we put him into hospice care after a visit. He had been badly congested in his chest and his blood pressure was out of whack. What was not diagnosed was that he had pneumonia.

Bob is prone to getting both bacterial and viral pneumonia. The bacterial because of sinus drainage. He hasn't had a viral strain since he began getting vaccinated for it.

Bacterial pneumonia can occur if someone aspirates on water or food and then cannot completely clear out their lungs by coughing. I'm sure there are other reasons for contracting bacterial pneumonia but for Bob, these two reasons are his main problem.

I wrote a previous post on snot (a lovely topic) which is lighthearted and humorous. But the underlying issue of mucous and drainage is a real problem among people with dementia. Dementia patients lose the ability to care for themselves. The ability to walk, speak, shower, toilet, brush one's teeth, eat and drink unassisted goes away. Additionally, the normal function to blow one's nose goes away too. This was a big issue with Bob. I didn't realize how big for another six months.

He had a low-grade upper respiratory infection in March that slipped into his lungs by April and May. By then, he had been in hospice care for about a month and wasn't doing well.

"He's prone to getting pneumonia. Do you think it's pneumonia?" I said.

When the nurse listened to his lungs, she said she heard the telltale crackling. Within hours, we had antibiotics on board and he was starting to feel better.

Within a month, his lungs were better but then he got a raging urinary tract infection (UTI) and needed a semi-permanent Foley catheter. But the antibiotics for that weren't strong enough and when they removed the Foley, he still was having trouble urinating. So, back in went another Foley catheter.

I will write further about this subject next but not in this post.

Anyway, he went on two antibiotics for the UTI but by August, he got another bout of pneumonia. It was this second, nearly back-to-back case of pneumonia that I started asking questions like, "why and how." The nurses simply looked at me with sympathy but offered no real substantive answers. Hospice care is palliative care, not curative care.

But inside, my questions wouldn't let up and I rued about it for another a week until I realized, well, dummy, he can't blow his nose! That's when I got an infant suction bulb.

And here's something else that could be useful, an electric infant nasal aspirator. I may get one but right now, the manual suctioning is working great.

I suction his nose out several times a day, in the morning, once or twice during the day if he needs it, and before he goes to sleep. I also give him over-the-counter medicine for runny nose. These things seem to help him and he's much more comfortable than he had been the previous two years before going into hospice care.

Again, I truly hope these posts help someone else, whether a caregiver for someone with dementia (or other brain malfunction) or someone who knows a caregiver. There are a lot of other resources available too. One of my go-to resources is the Alzheimer's Association. I find lots of answers there.

God bless you all, Susan.

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