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Monday, October 24, 2016

Aspiration Pneumonia

Following up on the last post...FIL was kept in the skilled nursing facility for an entire week. It was not a good situation. There were many things that happened, and it was quite stressful for all of us. I spoke with a director, and told the truth regarding my concerns. I also stated I would not bash them on social media. So, just know that any new situation is difficult on dementia sufferers, as well as their care givers and loved ones. The most helpful information we gleaned from the situation is that the speech therapist believes he is aspirating every time he eats--thus, aspiration pneumonia. It was determined at that time, that he now needs a pureed diet, with nectar consistency liquids. Due to his increased weakness, we also had to start using a wheel chair alarm, to discourage  him from standing up without assistance.

We chose to move FIL back to his memory care facility. He arrived at around 4:30 pm on Monday; and before 8:00 am Tuesday, he was in an ambulance on the way to the ER again. The facility thought he had a seizure. After routine tests in the ER, the doctor decided he had pneumonia...again (or still)! He was admitted to the hospital and endured more IV antibiotics, plus numerous tests, and the stress of just being in a strange place. A bad reaction to a common seizure medication--Depakote--put FIL in a very angry/agitated state. It brought flash backs of his behaviors just before we entered him into memory care. He was exhausted, and so was I. When I realized what had happened, I firmly told the nurse, doctor, and anyone else that would listen: NO MORE DEPAKOTE!

After enduring an EEG and other tests, it was determined that there had been no seizure activity, but he does have advanced dementia. The doctor recommended more IV antibiotics outside of the hospital, which would mean a skilled nursing facility again. The family discussed the situation, and realized that this scenario could occur at any time, over and over. None of us want to put him through the rigor he had endured for the previous 2 1/2 weeks. Honestly, we can not continue the pattern either.

The choice for Hospice had basically been decided for us with this realization. We are determined to have no more ER visits, no more hospitalizations, NO MORE extreme interventions. Finally choosing to use hospice services was not a choice we took lightly. Our previous experience with it, when hubby's grandfather (FIL's father) passed in 2003, seemed more of an acceleration of the inevitable. However, the entire hospice platform has changed to help sustain a comfortable and dignified life for as long as it lasts. One of the most important features for us is that FIL will have care available 24/7 to treat any discomfort, injury, or crisis.

My next post will address hospice--what it is, who it helps, and what I learned. I feel it is important to share and educate others because this decision may present itself to families at any time.

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