The dying process can be difficult and confusing not only for the one dying but for loved ones as well. As a loved one, you may not know what you need to be doing in order to make the dying process physically easier. Let’s take a look at areas of physical discomfort that can be managed during the dying process.
As the body begins to shut down, some patients experience certain amounts of pain. Though not every death is a painful one, it’s completely normal to relieve pain through the use of prescribed medications. A palliative care specialist will know which medications to prescribe and their dosages. If the medications prescribed are not providing any relief, it is important to let your palliative care specialist know this for they can adjust the medications and/or dosages.
During the dying process, it’s not usual for a patient to experience shortness of breath. This difficulty breathing is called dyspnea and can sometimes cause anxiety. Some means of remedying this is shortness of breath include elevating the head, opening windows to increase the flow of fresh air, the use of a humidifier or a fan to move still air in the room. Some doctors may administer morphine or medicines that help to limit the feeling of breathlessness. As death nears, breathing may become very loud and labored. Though this can be quite startling to loved ones, it usually does not upset the patient.
Towards the end of life, digestive problems such as nausea, constipation, loss of appetite, or vomiting are common. Though they mostly stem from the natural process of the body shutting down and energy being rerouted to life-sustaining organs in the body, some can be treated. It is important to speak to a nurse or other medical professional about these in order to ease discomfort. While a dying person may require help to eat if they desire to do so, do not have them eat if they do not want to. There is a certain point where eating may cause great discomfort or nausea, so do not be disturbed if the patient gives up food or drink almost completely.
Skin can become unusually dry on the face, eyes, and lips before death. Lip balm, moist cloths, and alcohol-free lotions can help to soothe the skin. Offering ice chips and wiping the inside of the mouth with a damp cloth can help relieve dryness in the mouth. Sitting in one position for an extended period of time can cause bedsores, so it is important to change positions from time to time. Harder services such as railings can irritate elbows, hands, and feet, making foam padding a source of comfort.
Though you may feel helpless to prevent the death of a loved one, helping them remain comfortable throughout the dying process can make all the difference — for the dying person and loved ones alike.
If you’d like to learn more about palliative care and hospice services in Tulsa, OK, you’re invited to learn more about Cura HPC.