Despite our best efforts, there comes a time when some patients might need a hospice for cancer treatment. While it is heart-wrenching to see your loved ones suffer from such a painful illness, it is vital to take the right step.
Hospice care is an efficient way to ensure patients lead comfortable lives in their last days. Moreover, patients battling cancer need the utmost care and attention as they already lead a suffering and uncomfortable life in the shadow of such an illness.
As a family, you might try to provide them happiness and comfort in such crucial times; however, it might not be enough. So it is essential to know when is the right time to call hospice for a can patient.
Signs When it is Time to Call Hospice For a Cancer Patient
Here are some situations which will help you understand better whether your loved one needs hospice care with cancer treatment.
1. The Oncologists Suggest That Chemotherapy Will Not Help Further
A prevalent sign is when the doctor or oncologist says that chemotherapy might not derive any results in the cancer treatment. Generally, when they suggest stopping chemotherapy, the patient’s condition is beyond repair.
However, do not be so quick to lose heart; you can also try different treatment options like acupuncture, meditation, massage therapy, yoga, etc., to help your loved one relieve some pain.
Sometimes, these therapies might work and make the patient feel better. But even after your sincere efforts, if your loved one continues to suffer, it is best to consider hospice care.
In palliative or hospice care, several professionals ensure patients live a comfortable life in their last days, including oncologists, physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, and psychologists.
2. Curative Treatments Are No Longer Effective.
Curative treatment includes a range of therapies and remedies provided to patients. These procedures aim to boost the recovery process and cure certain aspects of a disease.
While these treatments might not heal the patient thoroughly, they help prolong life expectancy in cancer patients enabling them to live a longer and healthier life. However, in some cases of cancer, these curative therapies are no longer a reliable option for the patient to survive.
3. The Oncologists Gives a Prognosis of 6 Months
When the doctor suggests the curative treatment is no longer feasible, the patient has likely reached the last stage of cancer, and there is no going back. Even though these situations can be challenging to accept, contacting a hospice provider and getting your loved one the help they need as soon as possible is essential.
A significant sign and criterion to admit your loved one in hospice care are when the doctor gives a prognosis of 6 months. However, this might not be the final request for your family member to survive.
A doctor or oncologist gives the prognosis of 6 months to convey that the patient might have less time than you think to live. In addition, it also means that they need to be under professional watch 24/7 and can experience uncomfortable moments due to cancer.
Signs of Deterioration in Cancer Patients
While the doctor’s verdict should be your top priority when dealing with a cancer patient, you can also observe some of the symptoms that help you identify your loved one’s pain and suffering.
Note: The below symptoms indicate end-of-life symptoms towards the final days. Usually, these symptoms appear three days before death in cancer patients.
1. Sudden Changes in Elimination, Like Dark Urine
Indication of deceased or dark urine can be a warning sign in cancer patients. However, this depends on several factors, like the doctor’s final verdict, the patient’s health, and whether they respond to chemotherapy.
In most cases where the oncologist gives a prognosis of 6 or fewer months, the patient showing unusual urine symptoms might indicate signs of deterioration. A symptom like this might be a message that the patient will not survive long.
2. Grunting or Unusual Breathing
In cancer patients, signs of abnormal breathing and wild grunting are observed toward the end of life. Identifying grunting might be confusing for some people as it is similar to snoring. However, it is a condition where the person stops breathing for about 15-20 seconds rather than breathing continuously.
Talk to a doctor immediately if you see such behaviors in your loved ones.
3. Closing Eyelids Become Challenging, And Pupils Do Not Enlarge
Some patients also experience difficulty closing their eyelids as they might become painful, or the muscle might not work efficiently. In addition, it is common for pupils to not enlarge towards the end of life in cancer patients as the eyes constantly come into contact with light and do not get enough rest.
4. Other Symptoms
While the above signs and symptoms are primary indications of the end of life, there are some additional changes in the final days of a cancer patient’s life. Most of these symptoms will confirm that your loved one’s health is deteriorating, and they might pass away soon. Some of the additional symptoms are:
- Mucus secretion causes rattling sounds
- Dry mouth
- Decreased hunger
- Mottled skin
- Sensitivity toward cool temperatures
- Anxiety and confusion
- Drowsiness or extended sleep
When you think about your loved ones battling cancer, you might feel there is no right time to opt for hospice care, but the sooner you provide them with intensive care, the easier their life will be for the remaining time.
It is natural to be reluctant towards hospice care for your loved ones as you have to accept the brutal fact that they will leave soon. However, you must see the bigger picture and do what’s best for them in their illness.
Not only does our hospice care provide treatments and therapies to the patient, but we at red rock hospice also ensure the patient’s family members address their grief about losing their loved one.