It’s the most difficult moment of your life when you first hear the words “hospice care” in relation to a loved one. As a caregiver or family member, you feel loss, dread, and an overwhelming fear of the unknown. What comes next? Knowing what to expect when a loved one enters hospice care can help relieve some of this anxiety as you begin to chart your course through the dark waters ahead.
You Will Be Assigned a Team
When a loved one enters hospice care, expect to be assigned a team. These dedicated individuals include physicians, nurses, aides, volunteers, social workers, counselors, and clergy members. Physical therapists may also be included as well as your loved one’s personal physician. These team members focus on the physical and emotional needs of everyone involved.
Location May Be an Option
Hospice care can be called for at any point the doctor determines that a patient has six months or fewer to live. If your loved one is on the shorter end of the spectrum, or if they require a greater degree of support to maintain life, then you may not have the option of utilizing hospice care beyond the confines of the hospital or facility your loved one is in. However, if they have longer to live and can manage to operate without life support machines, you may have the option to continue care at home, depending on the hospice care option you’ve chosen. In this case, the hospice team will check in daily in order to provide needed support for you and your loved one.
They Will Keep Them Comfortable
When someone enters hospice care, the focus of the team shifts from treatment of illness to keeping loved ones comfortable. The hospice team will monitor the patient’s pain, and you can expect that infusion pumps such as Hospira pumps will be utilized to ensure that patients receive as much medication as needed to manage their pain.
You Will Be Heard
In the final days and hours, you may notice your loved one’s faculties, such as breathing, taste, and sight, fading. It is easy to think in the last moments that your loved one is unaware of your presence. This can leave you feeling abandoned or cut adrift. But it has been said that hearing is the last sense to go. So even in the last moments, you will still be able to speak to them and take comfort in the knowledge they can hear you.
Someone Will Ask About Arrangements
Sometimes the logistics of death can be the most daunting to deal with. How can you think about paperwork and arrangements in the wake of such a significant moment? You can rest assured that hospice care team members will help you to make arrangements in the months leading up to your loved one’s passing. And if there isn’t enough time, someone will offer assistance after the fact.