When a family member is in the very last stages of life, those who are serving as caregivers face a series of crucial tasks. Hospice team members provide caregivers with huge amounts of information. Caregivers can also obtain guidance from books or online sources about how to handle those last days, hours and minutes of a person’s life.
Of course, your hospice medical staff is on standby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are available to provide comfort to patients and to help caregivers take care of a patient’s basic needs.
Your hospice chaplain and social worker can tell caregivers how to deal with their own stress as they try to ease the dying process for their loved one.
Your loved one may go in and out of consciousness during the final days and hours of life. Take advantage to those moments of alertness—brief though they may be—to offer your message of love.
As a patient prepares to die, he or she may want certain assurances: An assurance that things or people they were responsible for, will be taken care of. That their life had meaning. That they will be remembered. That survivors can make it without them.
When the actual moment of death approaches, it is important to remember that hearing is the last of the five senses to go. Even if the person seems to be sleeping or unresponsive, she or he may still hear everything being said.
If other family members choose not to be present at your loved one’s passing, do not criticize them for their absence. Some people may not be able to handle the pain of watching a loved one move on from his or her earthly life.
Remember that your hospice team members are a valuable resource. Their top priority is patient comfort. But hospice staff also provides counsel and support to caregivers and family members. Get to know your hospice professionals early in the dying process, if possible, and don’t hesitate to call on them during the patient’s final days.
For more information on what to expect during the final days, hours and minutes of a patient’s life, call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.