End-of-life care seeks to make people as comfortable as possible as they age or face the end stages of a life-limiting illness. This care often includes supporting their physical needs by managing pain and helping them dress, bathe, and complete other daily tasks. At the same time, it can also include supporting their emotional needs through counseling and supporting their spiritual needs through meetings with a chaplain, if desired. It can include working with families and caregivers to help them deal with their own emotions and concerns as their loved one enters this stage of life. End-of-life care is comprehensive and customized, too, changing as the needs of the patient and their family evolve.
Hospice care can provide many of these helpful services and more. A specially trained team of doctors, nurses, therapists, chaplains, and volunteers can help you care for your loved one and provide valuable end-of-life care for them and for your family. Many family caregivers are unsure of how to make their loved one as comfortable as possible. In addition to working directly with patients, hospice care teams also provide valuable information about the various signs and symptoms that accompany end-of-life, helping caregivers better understand and meet their loved one’s changing needs. This guide will help you understand what to expect as your loved one enters the end of their life and how a hospice care team can help.
Symptoms at the End of Life
Your loved one can experience a number of physical symptoms at the end of his or her life. This can vary greatly depending on their health and any additional illnesses. However, you can generally expect to see that their energy fades and they sleep longer than they used to. When awake, they may feel restless or anxious and want to be constantly on the move. Their skin may also feel cooler. People nearing the end of their lives often experience congestion, incontinence, difficulty breathing, and confusion as well, among other physical symptoms separate from any illness or other health conditions they may have.
Hospice care nurses, home aides, and doctors are trained to look for and recognize these symptoms in someone in hospice care. They can then provide a variety of services to help alleviate them, including providing medication to deal with pain and congestion, soothing them when agitated, and ensuring they are comfortable and warm. As the hospice care team notices other symptoms arising, they will communicate these developments with family and caregivers to ensure that the patient is receiving high-quality care at all times. They will help families understand exactly what to do to support their loved one. This can alleviate stress and help families feel more confident in their caregiving abilities.
Signs That a Loved One is Transitioning
Several behavioral changes also indicate that your loved one may be nearing the end of his or her life. Some people often get “a feeling” that their life is ending soon, and they begin making plans for it by talking about what they’d like done at their funeral, saying goodbye to friends and family, and giving away their belongings. They may also continue to feel restless, anxious, or depressed, and some begin having visions of loved ones who have passed away before them. These changes can be frightening for caregivers, too.
Hospice care teams are trained in how to handle these behavioral changes, just as they are with physical changes. They may recommend that a loved one begin seeing a therapist to help them discuss and manage their emotions, talk about their fears, and have a safe space in which to let out anything that they do not want their families to hear. Patients can also request to see a chaplain if they would like to take a spiritual approach to their end-of-life emotional care. Hospice care teams can also connect family members and caregivers with the same resources. A loved one who is increasingly showing signs of nearing the end of life often may seem to become a different person entirely, making this transition particularly difficult for the caregivers that closely monitor their condition and the changes with each day.
Hiring Hospice Services
Contact Harbor Light Hospice for more information about what to expect as a loved one nears the end of their life and to inquire about hospice care services. Harbor Light’s professional doctors, nurses, aides, and therapists understand how difficult it can be to care for a loved one at the end of their life and seek to make the process easier for everyone with customized, patient-centered care plans. They can assist with activities of daily living, pain management, mental health and spiritual counseling, and more, helping you and your loved one navigate this often stressful and difficult period of life together.