What Happens in Hospice When Signs of Dying Become Evident?

During the final stages of a terminal illness, treatment focuses on end-of-life hospice and palliative care to ensure a patient experiences the utmost relief possible from symptoms and emotional stress, notes Helpguide. When a patient is incapable of doing normal activities, such as talking, eating, walking or bathing, a hospice team or caregivers offer help with these daily activities.

End-of-life care in the final stages of an illness involves turning the patient to the side and putting pillows under the head and behind the back to ease breathing if the patient experiences labored breathing and using blankets to provide warmth if the patient's skin is cool to the touch, explains Helpguide. If loss of bladder control occurs, hospice care providers keep the patient comfortable and clean by putting disposable pads under him.

Hospice care at home or in a health care facility is common for patients with a life expectancy of up to six months, states Helpguide. Family members act as primary caregivers under the supervision of the patient's doctor and hospice medical personnel, while the hospice staff regularly visit the patient to evaluate his condition and offer assistance with personal care needs or provide physical therapy.

Palliative care involves providing medications and other treatment methods for reducing end-of-life symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, nausea or constipation. Hospice providers, palliative care doctors and home nursing professionals work together to offer all necessary support for end-of-life patients.