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Friday, December 6, 2013
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
Caregiver of grandmother with end stage COPD
My grandmother has been living with me since she was diagnosed with COPD five years ago. She is now 79 years old, has dropped down to 78 pounds, is on oxygen 24/7 at 4L. She is on a nebulizer every 4hours, on prednisone daily along with singulair, mucinex, advair and a host of other medications to open those airways. She had a stroke five months ago. Recently the doctor has called hospice in. This past Monday she was fine as she could be considering, but on Tuesday morning she woke up and she didn`t know she was living with me. She didn`t know her dog. She didn`t recognize my daughters. I called hospice and they came to check on her. She didn`t even know that she was sick. They didn`t believe she had another stroke, that it was part of the COPD.
My question is this, is this the normal progression of the disease? What other things do I need to be expecting?
Thank you for visiting NetWellness and for your question. Your description of your grandmother's symptoms sound like she is experiencing delirium. Delirium is a sudden decline in attention, perception, and cognition which means a person has trouble focusing, understanding, and thinking clearly. There are many causes of delirium and in your grandmother's case these might include low oxygen levels, infection, or her severe illness. Delirium can have times where it is better and worse on its own. There are some medications that can help if a person is agitated during delirium and hospice can help with this.This could be the first sign of the dying process and with the assistance of hospice, you should expect the process to be as comfortable for your grandmother as possible.
Michael E Ezzie, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University