Caring for a Loved One on Long-Term Ventilator Care

6 Ways Ventilator Nurses Improve Lives
August 15, 2019

When someone you love has to be put on long-term ventilator care, it can come as a shock. Their normal, day-to-day life will change dramatically, and so might yours. As a new reality begins for your loved one and your family, big decisions must be made, and you may find yourself asking how you’ll care for your loved one. Will you decide to provide care for yourself at home? Will you hire an aid to come to your house and care for your loved one? Or will you decide on a facility like Better Options Ventilator Specialty Care to provide care for your loved one?

A million questions will fill your head, and there often isn’t one right answer. Knowing some of the basics about long-term ventilator care is a good place to start. Typical things like the risks of being on a ventilator and how the ventilator works are some beginning knowledge that can make this transition easier for everyone involved. And when you can’t find answers to the questions you have, look to professionals who can help guide you in making a decision that you and your loved one will feel happy with.

What Is a Ventilator?

Caring for a Loved One on Long-Term Ventilator Care

Chances are you’ve seen a ventilator before but didn’t know what it was. The machine is found in most hospitals and sometimes features a monitor. A ventilator machine provides oxygen to the person using it through a breathing tube, while also removing carbon dioxide from the body. It pushes air into the lungs, much like the body does when breathing on its own during inhalation. Then, similar to exhaling, the machine helps push the air back out. Keeping this in-and-out airflow allows the body to receive the oxygen needed to keep vital organs working when breathing on your own is no longer an option.

Though it can be uncomfortable at times, the ventilator and breathing tube usually don’t cause any pain to your loved one on the day-to-day. When inserting the breathing tube, one end is inserted through the throat, nose, or mouth and into the windpipe while the other is connected to the ventilator. Though this machine is unable to fix the initial problem, long-term ventilator care will support the life of your loved one when their body is no longer able to do it on its own.

If something was to malfunction with the ventilator machine, it’s good to know how to address it quickly and efficiently. Every ventilator is different, so when your loved one needs one permanently, it’s best to go through the instruction manual with a professional or on your own so that you can learn how that specific one works.

Learn About the Risks

There are a few health risks associated with being on long-term ventilator care. In order to be as helpful as possible, it’s good to be aware of these issues so that if you notice a symptom you’re able to address it as soon as possible. One major risk that comes with being on a ventilator is the risk of infection. Sinus infections are a common risk of being on a ventilator, but other more troubling infections can be a major cause for concern.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “One of the most serious and common risks of being on a ventilator is pneumonia.” A side effect of having a breathing tube is that it makes the body more susceptible to bacteria entering the lungs. Things like coughing, which is the body’s natural way of preventing bacteria from entering the lungs, can be more difficult to do when you have to rely on a breathing tube.

With bacteria being an ongoing threat, a person on a ventilator is at risk of developing ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). This infection can make it harder to treat the other medical conditions or diseases that your loved one may have. Be on the lookout for symptoms like fever and chills, coughing up mucus, and chest pain. X-rays and blood tests can be done to diagnose the infection, and it can typically be treated by antibiotics but sometimes requires the use of special antibiotics, depending on the bacteria causing it.

Know Your Limits

Providing long-term ventilator care for a loved one is well worth the demanding work it entails. The adjustments that need to be made once a person is on long-term ventilator care are important to the health of the affected and the people around them. For some people, at-home care is the best option when faced with long-term ventilator use. With proper training, a family member is capable of providing care for a loved one in this condition. Hiring a trained professional to provide in-home care is another option.

These are usually the first choices for both patients and caregivers, as they want to maintain as normal a life as possible. As a loved one or family member, you might feel a sense of duty to be the primary caregiver to your loved ones. But, sometimes, the physically and emotionally demanding nature of this type of care can prove too much for one person.

Know that you don’t have to do it all on your own. Showing someone how much you care can also be done by picking the absolute best facility for them to join, and learning more about long-term care facilities can help you in making that decision. Fear can come with the idea of your loved one being in someone else’s care full-time, but when you find the right facility, many of those fears will subside.

Fortunately, choosing a facility that has highly skilled professionals giving top-notch care is easy in the Vancouver, WA, area. At Better Options Ventilator Specialty Care, the residents come first, and they consistently say that they “feel safer and more relaxed” at our facility. We’ve created an environment that both feels and looks like home, where your loved one will have access to state-of-the-art equipment that’s typically only offered at hospitals. We understand how difficult these big decisions are and will be there to help guide you through the process.

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