There are quite a few misconceptions about hospice and what hospice workers actually do. Many people assume that this form of care is simply end-of-life care and that’s it. That’s only part of the story, though. Hospice workers can provide you and your loved one the best care available. Here’s how.
The Hospice Journey: What it is & How it Affects Individuals
As your loved one nears the end of their life, extra help is often required. That’s when hospice workers provide their services.
The team of professionals and volunteers do their best to make the hospice journey easier and more bearable for both you and your loved one.
What is the hospice journey? And how does it affect everyone involved – including you, the patient, and the hospice workers?
Understanding the Hospice Journey: How Hospice Affects Us All
The hospice journey is the period of time that spans the beginning of hospice care to the death of the patient in care.
The hospice team normally enters the picture when a person has about six months or less left to live. The estimation is based on how far along the person’s illness is or how rapidly their health is declining.
This period is especially difficult for loved ones of the patient. Like you, they spend a lot of their time caring for the needs of their loved one, which expends a lot of energy.
Anxiety, fear, or grief can take a lot out of a caretaker as well. All of these feelings (and likely more) are to be expected while watching a loved one’s health decline.
During this time, it is vital to the comfort of the patient, as well as to the sanity and health of their loved ones, to get assistance. The hospice team of professionals and volunteers that come to help will be invaluable.
The last months, weeks, and days of a person’s life are emotionally difficult.
You can expect the dying process to begin about one to three months before the patient dies. During this period, your loved one will undergo physical and mental changes. They won’t have a lot of energy and will likely sleep a lot.
It is possible that they might have delusions. The patient often becomes confused, scared, and restless. To keep them calm, the hospice team will stay with them when you can’t, making sure the room is dimly lit, playing soothing music, and providing sedatives if necessary.
As a patient nears the end of their life and their hospice journey, it is then that the family members say their goodbyes. The hospice team will help you know when the time is right to call for loved ones to pay their last visits.
One of the most appreciated services that hospice workers provide is helping the family members – including you – prepare for what will happen and how you’ll likely react to it.
How the Passing of a Loved One Affects Friends, Family Members, and Hospice Workers
The hospice journey ends with the death of your loved one. It is important to understand what you and your loved ones will be going through during this time. A hospice worker has been in this situation before and can help you recognize the signs of grief – like disbelief, denial, anger, and sadness.
When a loved one dies, you can expect an overabundance of emotions. There will be moments when you feel a sense of peace and relief, thankful that your loved one is no longer suffering. At other times, you might become angry because someone important was taken from you.
Even if you’re not a relative of the patient, you can feel emotions that are just as intense as anyone else. If you’re a friend of the person who passed away – remember that you have just as much right to grieve as anyone else.
The loss of an important person in your life can bring about a lot of questions about life. You may experience some of life’s deepest questions about what happens after death, or why people have to die. At other times, you may worry about your own mortality. It’s not wrong to have these questions. They’re perfectly normal and valid questions and concerns.
Another issue you may notice during this time is that it’s very difficult to get back to a normal routine. Your loved one has been such an important part of each day and it becomes hard to know what normal is at this point. While you should definitely give yourself as much time as it takes to work through your grief, there’s a benefit to creating and sticking to a routine. Focus on something positive and hopefully this will help you avoid falling into depression.
Grief affects everyone involved in the hospice journey – including the hospice team. Hospice workers can best be described as caring souls. Supporting a patient and their loved ones throughout the death journey can take a toll. And when their patients pass away, they feel sadness and grief, too.
Through their experience, these hospice workers have learned to emotionally distance themselves so that they can support their patient and the family. This doesn’t mean that they don’t grieve, though. It just means that they have developed the ability to put off their own grief to be a pillar of support to those who need them.
Choosing the Best Hospice Care for Your Loved One
Hospice and hospice workers should be a source of comfort through your loved one’s hospice journey. To ensure this happens, it’s important to choose the right agency.
Intrepid USA provides a full team of both professionals and volunteers in their hospice program. This team helps to take some of the pressure off of you as a caretaker, and gives your loved one added support as they near the end of their life.
Your loved one’s life is precious, and that’s exactly how it will be treated by the team at Intrepid USA.
Do you think it’s time your loved one received end-of-life care? If so, please contact us for more information about our hospice services.