The later stages of lung cancer are exhausting ones, both for you and for your aging family member. You may not be as prepared for all of what might happen as you feel you should be.
Greater Fatigue and Trouble Staying Awake
All forms of cancer take a huge toll on your senior’s body. As she deals with the later stages of lung cancer, your elderly family member may have even more fatigue and therefore difficulty staying awake. This isn’t because she wants to be asleep or that she’s avoiding you or other family members. She may be truly unable to remain awake.
Restless Movements or Vocalizations
Even if your elderly family member doesn’t have the energy to remain awake, she may find that she’s not able to stop some of the restless movements she might experience. In addition to movements that she can’t control, your senior might experience moans or other vocalizations she didn’t intend to make, too.
Increased Difficulty Breathing
It might seem obvious that your elderly family member would have trouble breathing if she’s fighting lung cancer, but in the later stages, this problem can increase more than you expect. Her breathing may become shallower and she may avoid doing much at all because she gets short of breath so easily. If she’s open to using breathing treatments and medications, those may help to an extent.
As upsetting as it can be for your senior to seem to be “out of it” a good bit, it might almost be more upsetting for her to have extremely lucid moments. That can feel like false hope because your senior is aware of what’s going on again and may even seem to improve in other ways. This can be particularly misleading for family members that don’t spend a lot of time with your senior.
Disorientation, Particularly Around Time
It’s far more common that your senior will experience a great deal of disorientation. She may lose track of what day it is or the time of day. She may have trouble recognizing some people, especially if she hasn’t seen them for a long time. You may feel as if you spend the precious little time she’s awake reacquainting her with her surroundings.
Working with hospice care providers can give you the support that you need in order to be there for your senior as she weathers the later stages of lung cancer. They can help to find treatments that fit her specifications and that brings her comfort.