How Do You Know When It Is Time for Hospice?

By The Care Centers.

One of the many hard decisions you may face when you have an aging loved one will be whether or not it is time for hospice care. This can be a difficult decision because it means stopping any form of treatment for illness or disease and instead offering palliative care, which is simply ensuring the patient is comfortable as they reach the end of their life. How do you make this type of decision? Often, your loved one’s physician will recommend when it is time to enter hospice care. However, if you wait longer and your loved one is reaching the end stages of life, below are some things you may notice in them. If they have reached that point, then call a hospice and have them begin providing care so your loved one will be comfortable

  • Cool Extremities - Their arms, hands, legs, and feet may become cool to the touch because the body is no longer providing blood to the extremities. You can make them more comfortable by providing them with a warm blanket. 
  • Sleeping a Lot - They begin sleeping more and they may be much harder to wake up. Their metabolism is slowing down and this is a natural reaction to that. 
  • Disorientation - This is a common sign as a person nears the end of their life. They may be confused to the point that they even forget who you are, so be careful to identify yourself and explain everything that is going on around them. 
  • Incontinence - Muscles throughout the body begin to relax, leading to issues like this. A hospice nurse can help you maintain a clean space for your loved one. 
  • Chest Congestion - You may hear a rattling or gurgling in the chest when they breathe. It can be loud and it is due to fluid building up in the lungs.  
  • Restless - Your elderly loved one may become restless, and they may get in the habit of making the same repetitive motion over and over again.  This could include pulling at the bed sheets, tapping their leg, etc. Do not try to stop them from this behavior. 
  • Stopping Eating - Generally, people who are in the end stages of their life will either have a decreased appetite or they may have no appetite whatsoever. They may also stop drinking anything. Try to give them ice chips or frozen Gatorade. 
  • Changes to Breathing Patterns - Breathing may become more difficult and they may even go through stages where they seem to stop breathing altogether. As blood circulation decreases, so too will breathing. 

When you recognize that your loved one is reaching the end stages in life, you can ensure they are much more comfortable if you choose hospice care. That’s because this palliative care focuses on making the patient comfortable with pain medications. Find out more about hospice by reading this article (What Is Hospice and What to Expect from It)  on how it works or this one (How Does Hospice Care Work) on what to expect from this care so that you will be prepared when you make the call for your elderly loved one.  

Tags: Hospice care