Five Congestive Heart Failure Symptoms That Get Worse at the End of Life

September 16, 2019

If your senior has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure you likely already know that it’s a progressive disease. Congestive heart failure may worsen to the point that your senior opts to manage it with more palliative treatments than curative ones, especially as individual symptoms become severe.


Pain and Trouble Managing Pain

Pain is a big problem no matter what, but people with congestive heart failure have a variety of complications when managing pain. Your elderly family member might experience pain as a result of other related symptoms, like swelling in her extremities, or she might experience pain as her heart struggles to keep up with her body’s needs. There may be more that can help to manage that pain than either of you think.



Swelling in the extremities, formally called edema, happens as a direct result of your senior’s congestive heart failure. Her body and her heart can’t keep blood and other fluids moving out of her extremities and through the rest of her body as she should. That fluid then builds up, particularly in her legs. Some other types of treatments, like massage, can help.


Extreme Fatigue

Your senior’s body is already working really hard to keep her going, even if she’s not doing much of anything else at all. That means that she’s burning a lot more energy than it looks like she’s burning. This is part of why she’s extremely fatigued, even if all she did today was trek to the bathroom a few times. Rest can help, as well as helping her to remain conscientious about what she’s experiencing and how much she’s doing.


Difficulty Breathing

Your senior’s lungs work together with her heart, so when her heart isn’t operating the way that it should, her lungs are affected, too. Your senior likely has frequent episodes where she’s short of breath and feels as if she just can’t get enough oxygen at all. This can also contribute to fatigue because your senior’s blood is what carries oxygen throughout her body.


Emotional Impacts

Beyond the physical symptoms she’s dealing with, though, your senior is also dealing with emotional impacts. Depression and anxiety can be huge, especially if she’s having difficulty with more than a few symptoms all at once. Your senior might worry that her heart will fail at any moment, which can create massive amounts of anxiety.

If your elderly family member has opted to cease curative treatments, she might feel as if she has no other options. But end-of-life care can help her to be as comfortable as possible and may even offer greater options than she realizes.


If you or a loved one have questions about End of Life Care in New Brunswick, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Serenity Hospice. Call today, we can help:  (609)-227-2400

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