Posted on May 23, 2012 - by Nurse Virginia
I RECENTLY RECEIVED THIS EMAIL:
My mother was independent 2 weeks ago, living on her own. She went to the doctor and he said she had congestive heart failure and to go to the hospital. She went and is now in a skilled nursing facility and is highly confused with every aspect of the daily world. They say she has not had a stroke. It started the day after she was admitted to the hospital. The doctors say she is just confused. They won’t give us an answer as to what happened to our mother. When she was in the hospital nursing home her O2 stats dropped dramatically and she almost died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Could it be that her levels had been so high that her brain was starved from oxygen? Please help us to understand what has happened.
Ideas from a distance:
When congestive heart failure is advanced, there is a low level of oxygen exchange in the lungs which may affect the brain causing the elder to experience confusion. As well as confusion the elder may also exhibit changes in behavior due to the low oxygen levels. At this point, even if the elder is given oxygen therapy, the lungs ability to effectively exchange oxygen is impaired and the behavioral changes and confusion may not necessarily improve.
So saying that the build up of fluid from the CHF “starved” her brain of necessary oxygen and caused her confusion may be true. The fast intervention on the part of the doctor certainly indicates an emergency situation as well as the hospital admission.
Finding a physician who is a good communicator would really be helpful for you right now, to help your family with realistic expectations. The brain is a wonderful and in many ways, still a mysterious place. Don’t give up on your mother – let go, let God.
Virginia Garberding R.N.
Director of Education, The Wealshire, Lincolnshire, Illinois
Author: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance
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