If there is an increase in your elderly loved one’s level of pain or agitation, please contact Daughterly Care immediately, no matter what time of day or night. The Palliative Care Team have likely left additional pain control medication that can be given pro re nata i.e. as needed. We can talk you through the administration process or send a Registered Nurse. Paid Caregivers cannot legally administer medication on a pro re nata basis.
In the 24 years of providing End of Life care for Elders, only 2 clients have experienced pain that could not be controlled at home. Both the clients’ GP / Doctors would not allow the Community Palliative Care Team to be on-board. In this instance, we recommended the 2 clients go to hospital for their pain management. As a result of those two cases when a GP tells our client or us that the Community Palliative Care Team is not needed, or the family do not want to register with the Community Palliative Care Team, we cannot continue to provide care.
It is normal for an older person to lose his/her appetite and take in less food and water as the body begins to shut down. Once someone is no longer able to swallow any liquid, they dehydrate and will die within approximately a week (although more commonly 3 days). Once the Elder is unable to swallow, it’s important for families and Caregivers to stop trying to feed the person. This includes liquids because this will only cause aspiration (food/fluids going into the lungs), choking and greater distress.
Is dehydration painful?
Families are often afraid that dehydration will be painful for the dying. The only discomfort however is associated with a dry mouth. End of Life dehydration can actually produce a mild euphoria, just like morphine. It is okay to offer your Loved One sips of water or juice if they’re alert enough to swallow. Once they stop drinking however, just moisten and clean their mouth with swabs and keep their lips lubricated (often people like to suck on ice).
As your Elderly Loved One becomes less mobile and dehydrated, it’s normal to see cooling of the extremities with skin discoloration (dark purple) and a drop in blood pressure.