Can mom be catheterized while in hospice to make it easier on me?

Kathy f asked...

I am the main caregiver for my mother in hospice. She has been diagnosed with end stage congestive heart failure. She has to use the bathroom frequently and it is causing me frustration from lack of sleep. Can she be catheterized to make the process easier on me?

Expert Answer

Audrey Wuerl, RN, BSN, PHN, is education coordinator for Hospice of San Joaquin in California. She is also a geriatric trainer for the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC), which promotes education in geriatric nursing and end-of-life care.

Indwelling catheters are an option when the patient is unable to ambulate to the bathroom, or is currently wearing briefs. This is an invasive treatment, requires a physician order, and is not pleasant for the patient. There is always a risk of infection; families need to be educated on good catheter care, and what to do if the catheter becomes plugged. Maintaining the integrity of the skin (preventing breakdown) is also a good rationale for placing an indwelling catheter, when the patient's skin is fragile.

Urinary catheters are never used solely for the convenience of the caregiver.

Lack of sleep can increase a caregiver's burden. Caring for a loved one is difficult at times. If you are getting frustrated, please discuss this with your hospice team. The Social Worker may be able to provide a list of individuals you can hire to help with the care of your mother. Having help providing care can make all the difference in the world!