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Helpful Resources

Symptom Management - Loss of Strength

The following content is from A Caregiver's Guide: A Handbook about End-of-Life Care. It has been reproduced here with permission from The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem and the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.

Loss of strength may be a result of the advancing progressive illness or come from weakened muscles after a prolonged stay in bed. It usually occurs gradually, but can sometimes happen over just a few days.

What you may expect

A person who was once active and independent will usually have difficulty adjusting to the physical limitations of a progressive illness. If you understand how weakness affects the body, you can plan your care accordingly.

  • Tiredness is common after activities that once were easy.
  • The person may need help to walk, bath or dress, or may need to be cared for in bed.
  • It may be difficult for the person to move in bed and get from one place to another.
  • Frustration with physical limitations may make the person irritable during situations that would normally pass unnoticed.

How you can offer comfort and care

Your care will focus on helping your loved one save and space out energy during activities.

  • Ask a member of the health care team to teach you techniques for helping a person move more easily while conserving energy.
  • Reassure the person that you wish to help. Someone who is losing strength often becomes upset about being dependent.
  • Put a bell, a spoon and tin plate, or anything that can be used to make a noise to call you when needed. Baby monitors also work well.
  • Remind the person about the need to limit activities and to rest before doing any activity.
  • Ask a member of your health care team if a walker, wheelchair or other aids would help. You may be able to buy or rent equipment. (see Appendix VI Further Medical, Legal and Financial Provincial Contacts, page 154).​​