The importance of oxygen

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Betty was having trouble breathing, especially when she sat down after walking more than a few steps. She was 99 years old, so it was not too surprising that sometimes she had issues catching her breath.

Because of her dementia, though, Betty never said anything about it. She just continued on, wheezing softly.

The problem had gotten worse, and so finally I mentioned it to her son. He was surprised. “Really?” he asked, tiling his head to the side. “You think it’s that bad? Alright, I will look into it.”

Since Betty was already on hospice, we were able to get her an oxygen concentrator really easily. The hospice company brought it in the day after we requested it, primed and ready to go.

We started using it with Betty as needed. We actually found something amazing: not only could she breathe better, but her stress level diminished.

When she started crying out for her husband or her mom, asking where they were, we would bring the oxygen over. A few deep breaths, and Betty seemed to calm down. Yes, she wanted to know where they were, but, beyond that, she was stressed out!

Her anxiety level diminished with each breath.

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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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