Patient & Family Info
We are your support team.
A majority of people associate hospice with hopelessness doom and gloom. They are afraid of death and the process of letting go. This is completely understandable.
We can say from experience, that it is an honor and privilege to be part of someone’s final weeks, days, and hours. You have the opportunity to be part of your loved one’s final journey.
The Hospice Team understands and supports your desire to care for your loved one in the loving environment of their home. We realize that this period of time is a very difficult one and sometimes because “fear of the unknown” is greater than fear of the known, our desire is to be as honest and straightforward as possible in helping you through this period.
The following information is intended to help you prepare and anticipate the needs and symptoms which may occur during the course of a serious or life-threatening illness. The physician, the hospice nurse and social worker are available to help you clarify your concerns and questions in this regard. We want to relate each possible symptom to you in order to decrease your fear if one should appear suddenly, and to give you some guidelines about what you can do about the symptoms. The symptoms described are somewhat common during a serious illness, but not all of these signs occur at the same time and some may never appear. We hope you will find the information valuable.
It is important to emphasize that the process and journey of dying is very individual. Your loved one may take several weeks to complete his or her journey; some may take days, and some people months. During his/her journey, a number of days may be easier than others to bear. And symptoms of the illness can vary with severity in a daily basis.
AS THE JOURNEY COMES TO A CLOSE…
Your loved one will experience many changes: physical, mental, social and spiritual. This is a normal protective mechanism of the body. It says to us, “I am ready. I no longer need the things of this world. I have had a meaningful journey and look forward to the rest I will find at my final destination.”
The signs and symptoms of approaching death can be scary. Knowing and anticipating them may make it more comfortable for you. Below is a list of changes that often occur.
Sleeping more… My body has much less energy, but needs less energy.
Withdrawal from people…I am letting go
Eat or drink less…I no longer need calories for energy and it is difficult to chew and swallow
Becomes more confused…I am getting less oxygen to my brain and my mind is shutting down
Have moist breathing or congestion…I can no longer effectively cough up excretions. I may have an excess of fluid in my body as my heart and kidneys begin to shut down
Changes in breathing pattern…I may have several quick breaths, or extended time may pass between breaths
Lose control of urination and bowel movements…My muscles are getting weaker
Have blurred vision…I may not see you well, but what I see is angelic
Have less pain…My senses are weakening
Have cool hands, arms, feet and legs. Nose, mouth, fingers and toes may turn a bluish tone…My blood is not circulating very well
Make moaning sounds…This does not necessarily mean I am in pain
“You matter because you are you. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also live until you die.”
– Dr. Cicely Saunders