For most people at hospice care in Burbank, Ca, death is so foreign and an obscure process. Many times, terminally-ill patients and their caregivers think about what they should expect during this stage and how to make this time more comfortable. Having a clear understanding of what happens during this process can assist everyone involved to better arrange for the transition and each of the stages of dying.
Caretakers at hospice care in Los Angeles tell us that there are three main stages of dying: the early stage, the middle stage, and the last stage. People at hospice care in Burbank, Ca, gauge these stages in different changes in responsiveness and functioning. Nevertheless, it is critical to keep in mind that the timing of each stage and the symptoms experienced can alter from person to person. Described below is an overall look at what to anticipate during each stage.
In the early stage of dying, hospice care staff in Burbank Ca inform us that a patient will start to eat and drink a lot less. This extent of time can last from a couple of days to several weeks.
The first indication of this stage of dying is a considerable drop in interest in food. For many patients, eating becomes a difficult task, and they find very little joy in it. Also, they may sometimes choke on their fluids and will begin to feel full very fast.
During this stage, the body begins conserving energy and does not require a lot of nourishment as it did before. Even though it is hard to take in, it does not cause the patient pain or suffering. This is a natural process where the body abandons hunger, and artificial feeding at this moment does not hinder the death and can result in physical distress.
To offer comfort, a loved one can give patients little bits of food, sips of fluid or ice chips, but it is vital to respect the patient’s wishes when it comes to eating and drinking.
The middle stage of dying is characterized by alterations in the patient’s physical appearance that could last a few hours or several days.
The person will become increasingly less responsive to their environment and those around them, to the point where they will eventually become incapable of speaking or moving at all. This is usually witnessed during the last days of life.
While the body’s circulation slows down, blood is retained to help important internal organs to function. The patient’s hands and feet might feel cold and could become darker in appearance.
During this stage, loved ones can provide blankets to increase comfort as the patient’s circulation changes. However, heating pads and electric blankets are not advised because the patient will be unable to assess if they are becoming too hot.
The detachment from everything around them and relationships is the body’s physical and spiritual response to the process of dying and is absolutely normal.
Loved ones should believe the patient can hear everything they say. Experts advise to speak softly to the patient and stroke them gently only if they usually like being touched. This is a good time for prayer or meditation. It is not advisable to ask the patient questions that need answers.
During the final stage of dying, disorientation and restlessness may increase. There will be massive changes in the patient’s breathing and continence.
The patient’s bowel movements may completely stop, or they may become incontinent. Also, their breathing may become shallow and irregular, with long pauses that grow frequent as death gets closer. There may also be sounds of chest congestion and throat rattling in the final hours.
The restlessness observed in this stage is due to changes in metabolism, while the kidney and bowel functions are modified by decreasing circulation. Relaxing muscles can result in incontinence. The slowing of blood circulation to internal organs causes the lungs to lose their power to clear out fluids and relax the throat muscles.
When a patient commences the final stage of dying, it is helpful to talk to them reassuringly. Once again, gentle touch is fine if the patient likes being touched. Even when they are not responsive, the patient might be able to hear those around them, so it is important to speak respectfully. Even though this can be a distressing time for loved ones, it is highly recommended to try to stay calm.
Some patients may require medication for restlessness, diapers, a catheter, or underbody pads. Nevertheless, it may be handy to lift the head of the patient’s bed or use pillows to help elevate their head; turning the patient on their side may also increase comfort.
If your loved one has a terminal illness, hospice care can assist in enhancing their quality of life during their final months. Contact the understanding and caring team at Faith & Hope Hospice and Palliative Care to find out how they can help your family and your loved one physically, emotionally, and spiritually throughout this process.