End-of-Life Care: Answers to Common Questions

When a loved one is nearing the end of their life, family members and caregivers often have numerous questions. Devinity Hospice, a reputable provider of hospice care in Texas, offers this guide to end-of-life care that addresses some of the most common concerns posed by families who have loved ones who require palliative care.

How long does my loved one have?

In the case of a terminal illness, patients and their family members typically want to know what their life expectancy is. This is a difficult, if not an impossible, question to answer. While doctors may be able to make an estimate based on what they know about their patient’s health, it is an educated guess at best.

Some physicians may even be hesitant to provide an estimate out of fear of destroying hope or providing false hope. If you or your loved one truly wants to receive an approximation, remember that things can change easily. As much as possible, do not accept what the physician says as a definite timeline.

I am caring for my loved one at home – when should I call for professional assistance?

There will likely be times when help is necessary from your loved one’s health care team. Contact their physician, a nurse, or a provider of hospice programs for help in any of the following situations.

  • If your loved one is in pain that can no longer be managed by the prescribed pain medication
  • If your loved one has trouble breathing
  • If your loved one has fallen
  • If your loved one has difficulty swallowing medication(s)
  • If your loved one refuses to take their medication(s)
  • If your loved one seems withdrawn and depressed

Additionally, family members should call for help any time that they are feeling overwhelmed. If you are too exhausted or unsure how to handle a specific situation, contact your loved one’s care team. As a leading provider of hospice palliative care in Humble, Texas, helping you and your family during this difficult time is exactly what we were made for.

How can I provide emotional support to my loved one?

While every person has unique needs, some emotions are common during this difficult time. These include the fear of being a burden and the fear of abandonment. They may also have concerns about loss of independence, dignity, and control. You can provide comfort in some of the following ways:

  • Ask them if there is anything that you can do for them.
  • Allow them to express their concerns and fears about dying. Be prepared to listen. On the other hand, be respectful if they do not wish to discuss these things.
  • Keep them company. Watch movies, read together, talk, or just be with them.
  • As much as possible, do not withhold difficult information. Most patients prefer to be involved in discussions about issues that concern them.
  • Reassure them that you will honor their wishes and any arrangements that they have made, including burial wishes, advance directives, etc.