Tips for reducing anxiety in a loved one on a ventilator?

Posted by krystalk @krystalk, Dec 12, 2021

My mom has been on a ventilator for six weeks now after a cardiac arrest due to respiratory failure from untreated pneumonia at her nursing rehab. She is very anxious and that is keeping her from making progress weaning. Any advice on things I can do to help as a caregiver? She was also in a vent over the summer after a thymectomy compromised her ability to breathe. It has been such a long journey. Hard to watch her suffer over and over.

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Has she or have you considered a DNR or a MOLST that limits use of ventilators? How old is she? This kind of situation is heartbreaking. Do the doctors suggest any medication to help her?

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Sometimes I think it is the little things that help patients the most. Try bringing in her favorite blanket, some pictures from her living room or bedroom. Getting out of her room definitely helps, if that is a possibility. Stay positive and as she gets better and celebrates her successes.

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@williamclark

Sometimes I think it is the little things that help patients the most. Try bringing in her favorite blanket, some pictures from her living room or bedroom. Getting out of her room definitely helps, if that is a possibility. Stay positive and as she gets better and celebrates her successes.

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Play her some calm, favorite music of the season, perhaps.

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How about some soothing music of the season ?

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So sorry this is happening!! I'm just curious as to why her physicians don't have a standing order for anti-anxiety medication? That's typically part of the treatment plan on a ventilator. She shouldn't be feeling anxious unless there's a medical reason why she cannot take medication to reduce it. Wishing you both the best! Hope she is able to get things turned around and get off the ventilator, and make a full and speedy recovery. Please also be sure to take care of yourself in the process of taking care your mom! ((Hugs))

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@williamclark

Sometimes I think it is the little things that help patients the most. Try bringing in her favorite blanket, some pictures from her living room or bedroom. Getting out of her room definitely helps, if that is a possibility. Stay positive and as she gets better and celebrates her successes.

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How could she get her out of her room if she is on a ventilator ?

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That is a very good question and I imagine there are others wondering the same thing. The ventilators have internal batteries to keep them running. All that you would need is an oxygen source, which would vary depending on the type of ventilator the patient is on. Depending on the facility there are also Transport Ventilators that can be used which are smaller and lighter.

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My mom was like this also and was on a bi-pap machine to remove carbon dioxide from her body due to end stage liver disease….we played soothing, peaceful, quiet music and we sat with her, held her hand and prayed honestly….the music seemed to keep her calm….she did live for another yr and we got that extra time….she was given meds to remove toxins from her blood (lactalose) for ammonia build up…..you may have to make a decision about end of life care….it does come to that eventually 🙏💕 try the music at very low volume and maybe choose peaceful sounds…..like waves at a beach, waterfall sounds or love songs around her time….good luck

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I am so sorry for both you and your mom. It seems like you both have had several stressful events over a period of time. It is important to note that it is more than one event, and over a period of time. First – make sure you are taking care of yourself. You will be less helpful if you do not understand what is going on, or if you do not have a good plan to follow. Are their other family members or friends that can visit? Church members? Hospital volunteers? As for your mom, I agree with some other excellent suggestions. Short term immediate suggestions include a small dose of Ambien – it was very helpful for my mother-in-law when she was given terrible news. Mental health and sleep is very important. Music is great as well as books on tape – subjects could be relaxing or interesting to her. Using ear buds or head phones might help. Watching movies or a series or cooking shows with an IPad and ear buds/head phones. Longer-term help might include exploring getting her out/moving around with a battery system. And lastly, an honest assessment which is shared with her or not. Good luck to both of you!

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This is heartbreaking. My 60 year-old husband was on a ventilator in the ICU for 12 days for hypercapnic respiratory failure. He was coherent the whole time. We tried an alphabet board (pointing to letters) but because his O2 was so high, he couldn't get past two letters. This made him even more anxious. I tried playing music but he got more agitated. I feel it's trial and error. If something works to soothe your mom keep doing it. If it doesn't; stop. Our family made the decision to take my husband off the ventilator. He was smiling from ear-to-ear when we did. Unfortunately his lungs weren't working, he would never recover, and he wasn't a transplant candidate. He passed after five days in hospice. I hope your mom has a chance at recovery and you don't have to make the decision we had to make.

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Correction…his CO2 was over 100%, not O2.

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I agree very heartbreaking. Thank you, keepmoving2, for pointing out that you also need to take care of yourself. This is a time when you are under a lot of stress, if I were to guess I would say that you are probably not getting enough sleep, and you are spending a lot of time with your mother. Please take some time each day, even if it is 15 minutes to do something for yourself. It is also important to watch what you eat. I am not saying to count calories or anything like that. Most of the time the food that is most readily available is the food that is not very healthy. Something as simple as making sure you get your daily serving of fruits and/or veggies will help.
When my daughter was sick the hardest thing that I had to deal with that was, not related to her illness, letting people help me. I had the hardest time letting people do things for me. I think it was a guy-pride thing. But I learned that people want to help you because they care and they get fulfillment by doing so.
Stay strong and I hope for a speedy recovery for your mom.

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