My father was completely independent until last Monday when his legs became weak and gave out. It turns out the weakness was because he was developing aspiration pneumonia. He has been in the hospital all week and currently can't move his body, just his arms and legs a little. We can't understand most of what he is saying. All of this is from muscle weakness from the infection. I really need to hear some positive stories of people that have regained their independence after a bout with serious pneumonia.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to share positive stories.
He lost his appetite (they gave him ensure to keep his strength). Stayed in the hospital for 21 days. Doing fine now.
God bless your dad.
Learn all you can about pneumonia, ask the nurses but better yet the doctors.
Learn all you can about aspiration, dysphagia and raise the issue of a videoscopic swallow test when he's up to it in the hospital, and if d'x'ed with it, ask for a handout on the levels of dysphagia diets.
Create a chart for him to interact with you; create several boxes so you can clearly point to one; add photos with written captions...e.g., "water", with a glass; "cold" with a blanket, "hot", with a fan,.... the idea is for you to just point to something and he can blink his response, or nod. That prevents him from having to use his muscles and limited strength.
Ask his doctors what his prognosis is, and whether there are any other medical complications to affect it.
Do you know how he developed aspiration pneumonia, e.g. was he eating meats, drinking a lot of fluids? Coughing a lot? Choking?
I think one of the primary issues though is his mental strength. Is he a fighter?
Two days later I was coughing so hard that I vomited. Off to ER. As soon as the doctor there listened to my chest, he diagnosed pneumonia. I was put on O2 and Ventolin in the Hospital and IV antibiotics. I was sent home with Ventolin and antibiotics and told to rest.
I was diagnosed in mid June and was weak all summer. I had to use the Ventolin to climb the 6 stairs in my split level home. Just getting dressed was exhausting. I coughed so hard that I tore my intercostal muscles, that was excruciating. It took me 6 months to fully regain my strength.
And crazily I worked during this time. I was not contagious and could not afford to take time off. My office was on the second floor of a building and luckily there was a landing 1/2 way up. I had to stop to catch my breath.
Why have I told my story? Because recovery from pneumonia is long and hard, even for young people. It will be that much harder for your dad. If he is determined, he can regain his strength, but it will take a long time and a huge effort. He will have to change his diet to foods he can swallow.
For a senior, we have a very good family friend who is 87, 2 years ago he was hospitalized with pneumonia, we did not think he would make it as he has heart disease too. He was caring for his wife full time. When he went into the hospital, she was brought in too, as she needed 24/7 care. Eventually she was placed in a nursing home and he recovered. No longer having to be a care giver, but being allowed to be a husband again, gave him the fortitude to recover.
As with heart disease, depression can set in, as it feels like you are not making any progress as it is a slow, long hard recovery period.
My worry here is if something is being missed. How old is your father? Generally Aspiration Pneumonia happens when there is a weak or no swallow reflex, and food is taken not to the stomach, but to the lung instead. A weak swallow as well as the weak gait for the legs could be indicative that there is some stroke activity. I am assuming the doctors believe that there is no evidence of stroke? I don't know about success stories. People do recover, of course from pneumonia, but age makes a huge difference in that likelihood. I think right now keep in close touch as you can with the doctors. They will give you more ideas about what to expect. Pneumonia is very dangerous and can be lethal, and in fact in days when old age and death were more accepted and expected pneumonia was called "The old Person's Friend" in that it would usher one out almost certainly before antibiotics.
I wish you and your Dad good luck. You will know more when two weeks have passed about where this is all going. Dependent on age recovery can be long.
On Aug.5th 2020, my husband suddenly took a turn for the worse and I was told by Hospice that he would be dead in 3 days. Well, it's now the 31st, and my husband is still hanging on. He hasn't eaten since the 5th, nor drank much, and he's definitely dying this time,(it's just a matter of time), but I am grateful that I have received an additional 21 months from the first time I was told he was dying. I would never have thought with the grim prognosis early on, that almost 2 years later he would be with me, and able to die on his terms. God bless you and keep you.