What Is Your Senior Likely to Experience in the Later Stages of Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is a progressive illness, which means that it gradually worsens over time. As your family member nears the end of her battle with lung cancer, you may notice some of these issues.

She’s Likely to Have More Trouble Breathing

Breathing is probably the biggest concern when your elderly family member has lung cancer. Her lungs are already battling so much, and as it becomes more difficult for her to breathe, everything else becomes more difficult, too. Your senior may already be on oxygen therapy or using other breathing treatments to help her to breathe as well as she possibly can. Keeping track of even simple things, like humidity levels in the room she’s in, can help her to breathe a little more readily.

Exhaustion and Greater Periods of Sleepiness

Because of the toll the lung cancer is taking on her body and the breathing issues she’s experiencing, your elderly family member is likely to be more exhausted. She likely spends the majority of her waking hours feeling sleepy and wanting to just lie down. This happens because less oxygen is able to get into her body and do what it’s supposed to be doing for her. Resting is the best option for her, but her doctors may have other suggestions, too.

She May Feel Restless

It’s also possible that your senior feels restless. That can seem contradictory if she’s also feeling exhausted, but it’s absolutely something she might be experiencing. This happens because her muscles still want and need to move and it happens for other reasons, too. Your senior may be more restless when she’s in pain or when it’s more difficult to breathe. If your senior is still able to communicate her needs, ask her what you can do to help.

Trouble Orienting to Day and Time

Confusion about what day and time it is may also be common for your elderly family member. She could experience disorientation in a variety of other ways, too. This goes back to oxygen levels a bit, but it also happens because your elderly family member’s body is slowly shutting down. The nature of a terminal illness is that it progressively becomes worse, and that affects your senior’s brain and how it works.

There Are Times She’ll Be Extremely “In”

But as often as your elderly family member is “out,” there will also be times when she’ll be very much “in.” Moments of extreme lucidity can be surprising for you and other family members, especially if you’ve been trying so hard to help her to have the best quality of life possible and have felt as if you weren’t doing so well. These are the moments to cherish with your senior and to enjoy for as long as you have them.

Hospice care services can help you and your family members to do as much as you can to make the remaining time your senior has left as comfortable and as peaceful as possible.


Shaun Clinkinbeard
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