Questions about end of life care
October 15, 2020
End of life care is different for each person. Each individual will have unique needs, advice, care and support during this time. End of life care will no doubt bring about questions from both the patient and their loved ones. Therefore it is important to ensure you discuss any questions and concerns you have throughout with your healthcare team . Any healthcare team that will be providing care through such a difficult time are always willing to answer and support all those involved. It might be helpful to write some questions out beforehand to ensure you know what is happening every step of the way.
How long can my loved one expect to live?
Patients and their family members often want to know how long a person is expected to live to help them prepare. Factors such as the illness the patient has if they have contracted an infection can affect this. Although doctors may be able to make a prognosis / an estimate based on what they know about the patient, they might be hesitant to do so. The doctor would want to be honest with your loved one and not provide false hope.
What are some ways that I can provide emotional support for my loved one?
Everyone has different needs, but some emotions are common to most dying patients. Fear of abandonment, of being a burden, loss of dignity and most of all loss of control are just some of these factors. There are many ways you can provide emotional support as follows:
- Just be there – talk, watch movies, read, or just be with the person.
- Allow the person to express fears and concerns about dying, such as leaving family and friends behind. These may be difficult conversation, but all you can do is be there to listen.
- Reminisce about the person’s life and all the memories you share.
- Avoid withholding difficult information. Your loved one should be included in discussions about issues that concern them.
- Reassure the patient that you will honour advance directives, such as living wills.
- Respect your loved ones privacy if they need it.
What are the signs that end of life is approaching?
While it’s difficult to know when someone is going to die, there are common signs that may indicate the last days or hours of life. These may include:
- Restlessness, confusion or agitation
- Increased sleep or periods of drowsiness
- Loss of appetite
- Irregular breathing or pauses in breathing
- Swelling, coldness or blue colouring in the hands or feet
- Reports of seeing someone who has already died
- Gurgling or crackling sounds with breathing
What can I do to make my loved one more comfortable during this time?
It’s important to know steps you can take to provide comfort during the last days and hours before death. Here are a few ways of providing comfort:
- Not eating – feed small spoonful’s of food. Use ice chips or a damp sponge to keep the mouth moist.
- Skin irritation – apply lotion to the skin to soothe and adjust the bed position to avoid sores.
- Pain – give the pain medication as instructed by the doctor.
- Confusion – Speak calmly and be reassuring. Hold hands or use a gentle touch if it’s comforting. Remind the person where he or she is and who is there.
Some families opt for medical support for their loved ones in order to enjoy what little time they have left with them. Whether your loved one requires a Carer or Registered Nurse, Cavendish Homecare can provide the much need superior care in your home.
We work to support patients and their families with sensitive and comforting End-of-life care. We understand that at such a stressful and sensitive time specialist nursing care and trustworthy support can make a huge difference during End-of-life care. Our team of Homecare Managers, Registered Nurses and Carers have a wealth of End-of-life care experience and are experts at providing practical and emotional support.
All our services are personalised to suit specific needs. If you would like to discuss your End-of-life Care, please contact one of our experts, who will be happy to help.
Read more on our Palliative Care and End of Life services, What does Palliative care mean for Cancer patients?, When should someone be offered Palliative Care? and What to expect from a Palliative Homecare plan.