I received a call one week ago about a client residing in a nursing home. I had seen Betty just four days earlier and we had a pleasant visit, however I was now being told that her condition was critical and that hospice was being called. Betty used oxygen 24/7 due to years of smoking. She was struggling to breathe and I was told was actively dying. Not being a family member, even I had difficulty believing this because of seeing Betty several days before. I immediately called family living out of town to advise that Betty was in critical condition. According to the hospice nurse Betty was not expected to live through the night. My question to the nurse was “were we writing Betty off too soon?” I was concerned this was a critical incident and that perhaps Betty needed immediate intervention to reverse the condition. The nurse was non-committal. I stayed by my phone through the night and by morning there was no phone call so I called to inquire. Miraculously, Betty had pulled through in spite of hospice telling me her changes were slim. As a person who knows your friend or family member you have a duty to question situations that don’t seem quite right. There was a combination of events that led to Betty’s premature diagnosis of actively dying: low blood sugar, imbalanced electrolytes and a low oxygen level. After these areas received the needed attention, the condition reversed, but not without emotional stress on the part of her family believing she was going to pass away. .

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About Pamela Wilson

PAMELA D. WILSON, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA helps caregivers and aging adults solve caregiving problems and manage caregiving needs through online programs, live support groups, and an extensive caregiving library that includes articles, podcasts, videos, and webinars.

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