My mother has congestive heart failure, and my family and I have started to care for her as this condition continues to progress. Her doctor suggested that we subscribe to an ambulance service for CHF to make things easier for us as a heart failure action plan. If her condition takes a turn for the worse, our doctor said it would save us time and effort.
Right now, we’re all so overwhelmed and are having a hard time deciding what to do. Should we consider this and how does hospice help in this circumstance?
An Overwhelmed Family
Dear Overwhelmed Family,
Thanks for reaching out. Taking care of a parent as they near their end of life is not an easy thing for anyone to do. We here at Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care have seen this with many patients, and we’re here to help and offer whatever guidance you may need.
First, it’s important to understand where your mom is with her illness. Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a type of heart failure that may require immediate action and medical attention, which is probably why your doctor recommended the ambulance service for CHF. If something happens to your mom at this stage, it will require you and your family to act quickly and to have a heart failure action plan.
The American Heart Association has some helpful materials that show the various stages of heart failure. According to their documentation, there are three zones of heart failure – green, yellow and red – and each zone has different symptoms of which you should be aware. Depending on your mother’s current situation, some of the things you should be looking for are sudden weight gain or weight loss of several pounds, increased coughing, swelling of her limbs, or shortness of breath. These can all be signs that your mother might be moving into the yellow or red zones.
Since your mother has CHF, an ambulance subscription service might bring you some comfort and help financially. Depending on where you live, these subscriptions require an annual fee which covers the cost of any rides to the hospital during emergencies. If your mom ends up going to the hospital multiple times a year, this would be a financial decision worth investing in.
It would also be helpful to notify the local fire department, as well as the gas and electric companies of your mother’s condition. Letting these companies know that you have a high-alert patient will help them with planning prior to arrival.
Also, if 911 is called by your mom and she can’t talk with them, they will know there is a patient with significant needs there and will send the appropriate responders to your home. With other other emergencies – such as power outages – the local officials will know that your mom (and household) may require additional assistance with things like oxygen.
As your mother progresses further in her end-of-life journey, a hospice team will be helpful to your family. With a hospice nurse, your mother’s symptoms can be managed and maintained at home. Daily tasks like grooming and bathing can also be taken care of by your Crossroads nurse or hospice aide. Oftentimes, a warm bath can boost a patient’s mood and change their entire outlook for the day; but it can be hard for a family member to navigate these tasks on their own.
Our team of Crossroads social workers and chaplains will also be there to help with the psychosocial and spiritual needs anyone in your family is experiencing related to your mother’s illness.
All of our Crossroads team members are trained and educated for end-of-life interventions, so if something were to happen – like extreme shortness of breath or an episode of air hunger – they will step in and provide comfort following the established goals of care plan. These care plans are established at the onset of hospice care with the Crossroads team, patient, family, and/or patient’s significant others.
Having Crossroads at your home during your mother’s end-of-life journey means you’ll have the support and guidance of our team. We are here for you.
Debra Wagner, BSN, RN, NEO
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care
For more information on hospice care for people with CHF, give us a call at 888-564-3405.
If you found this information helpful, please share it with your network and community.
Copyright © 2022 Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care. All rights reserved.