Community Blog

How Can You Help Your Parent Prevent Pulmonary Embolism?

By Vicki and Brian Day

Being a family caregiver for your elderly parent means that you will need to not only create a care routine that helps them to handle their current medical challenges, but also that you are prepared to help them address other risks that they might be facing. One such risk is pulmonary embolism. A blockage of the pulmonary artery in the lungs caused by a deep vein thrombosis, or blood clot, moving from the leg or other part of the body into the lungs, PE can be a life-threatening condition for your senior. Fortunately there are ways that you can help your parent to prevent this serious medical situation.

Use these tips to help your parent prevent pulmonary embolism:

Shed pounds. Being overweight or obese increases the risk that your elderly parent will suffer PE. If they are carrying extra pounds, work with them and their doctor to help them lose this excess weight safely.

Stop smoking. Though it is not fully understood, smoking increases the chances of PE. If your parent smokes, help them to quit as quickly as possible.

Keep them moving. Being confined to long periods of sitting or bedrest due to illness, injury, or recovery from a medical procedure can put your parent at serious risk for a blood clot. Even if they are not able to get up and walk around, you can help to reduce their risk by encouraging them to move throughout the day. Even wiggling their legs or having you help them by lifting and lowering their legs can be helpful.

Plan and prepare during long trips. Going on a long trip can be fun for your family, but it can also put your parent at risk of a PE. Ask their doctor about the possible benefits of wearing compression stockings during the trip, and make sure that you plan for stops every hour or so so that your parent can get up and walk around to further reduce their risk of developing a blood clot that might travel into their lungs.

If you have noticed that your senior loved one’s challenges and limitations have gotten worse and you no longer feel confident that you are able to give them the level of care that they need, or your own limitations or schedule have changed and you cannot give them the care that you would want to, starting home care for them might be the ideal solution. Whether your parent needs only a small amount of support such as transportation and help with activities of daily living, or more extensive care and support, you can work with an in-home care provider to personalized a schedule and an approach to help them address their individual challenges and limitations in the way that is right for them. As a family caregiver, this can give you peace of mind knowing that your senior is in good hands both when you are able to be with them and when you are not.