Mesothelioma Hospice: What Your Family Should Expect

Doctors may suggest mesothelioma hospice care at the end of a patient’s life. Treatment in hospice care is focused on easing symptoms rather than extending life expectancy. Moving to hospice care can be a very emotional time for the patient and their loved ones. Learn more about what to expect in hospice care and tips on supporting your loved one in the late stages of their cancer.

When Should My Loved One Begin Hospice Care?

Your loved one’s team of oncologists will more than likely suggest mesothelioma hospice care when the cancer has spread too much to control it with treatment. Hospice care is generally recommended when the patient is having severe symptoms that cannot be alleviated with chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, and other mesothelioma treatments.

Although mesothelioma doctors will suggest putting a stop to cancer treatment, this does not mean the patient will stop receiving care altogether. Instead, mesothelioma hospice care focuses on relieving painful symptoms and keeping the patient as comfortable as possible as they transition to the end of their life.

Mesothelioma hospice care can be given at home, in a hospital, or a rehabilitation facility. Many patients will opt to be given hospice care in the comfort of their own home.

In addition to listening to the guidance of your loved one’s mesothelioma doctor, it is important to consider their own personal wishes for their end-of-life care.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), studies have shown patients had lower stress levels and better coping abilities if they discussed their end-of-life care options early on.

Making the decision to end cancer treatment and put your loved one in mesothelioma hospice can be difficult. Listening to your loved one’s wishes and the advice of doctors can help your family make the best decision in the late stages of the patient’s life.

End-of-Life Mesothelioma Symptoms

Although every mesothelioma patient is different, there are several signs indicating they may be reaching the end of their life while in mesothelioma hospice.

Watching a loved one experience these symptoms while in hospice can be incredibly devastating and difficult for family members and friends to witness.

Knowing what to expect during this tough time may help you emotionally process the situation and help your loved one in the best way you can.

Symptoms of mesothelioma patients entering the last stages of life may include:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty eating and drinking
  • Dry mouth
  • Drifting in and out of consciousness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Gurgling noises coming from the throat
  • Less frequent urination
  • Loss of interest in activities, hobbies, news, etc.
  • Loss of interest in socialization
  • Significant weakness
  • Sleeping more frequently
  • Slow breathing
  • Weight loss

According to the NCI, another telltale sign of a cancer patient nearing the end of their life is hallucinations. Some patients may claim to see or hear things that are not actually there, which can be very upsetting for loved ones. It is important to remember this is normal as your loved one transitions to the end of their life.

How Can I Support My Loved One in Mesothelioma Hospice?

Many people may wonder how they can offer support when their loved one stops treatment and transitions into mesothelioma hospice care. Since the goal for hospice care is to keep the patient as comfortable as possible, there are several things you can do to support your loved one and help reduce pain at the end of their life.

Some ways you can care for a mesothelioma patient in hospice include:

  • Changing their sheets often
  • Giving them water through a straw
  • Holding their hand
  • Listening to stories about their favorite life memories
  • Making sure their bed is comfortable (bring their favorite blankets, get a mattress topper, etc.)
  • Massaging their body to improve circulation
  • Using lotion to moisturize dry skin

One of the best ways to support your loved one in mesothelioma hospice is to talk to them and let them know you are there. Even if they are drifting in and out of consciousness, talking to them and touching them can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and anxiety.

Since mesothelioma hospice is focused on keeping the patient comfortable, do whatever you can to make sure they have everything they need to stay relaxed.

What To Do In the Event of an Emergency

Since many mesothelioma patients may opt to spend their final days in hospice care at home, situations may arise that require urgent help from a medical professional.

It is important to stay informed about what to do in an emergency situation to make sure your loved one gets the help they need.

Call for help if the mesothelioma patient is experiencing:

  • Breathing issues
  • Extreme agitation
  • Seizures
  • Sudden changes in consciousness
  • Unmanageable pain

If you are a mesothelioma caregiver looking after your loved one in hospice care and feel overwhelmed with your caring duties, call a professional hospice care provider for additional help.

Caregiving can be very exhausting for a loved one and there is nothing wrong with getting help from others. Professionals can make sure your loved one is getting the care they need at the end of their life while you recharge.

Are There Any Emotional Support Options for Family Members?

Mesothelioma hospice care not only focuses on supporting patients in their final days, but it also provides support for family and friends.

Watching someone you love battle late-stage mesothelioma is a heartbreaking experience and it can be overwhelming.

One of the best ways to cope during this time is to stay informed and have an open forum to express your feelings. Hospice nurses or social workers may lead meetings to not only provide updates on your loved one’s health, but to talk about the process of death.

Staying close to other family members and talking about your emotions as your loved one is in hospice care can help you process the experience. This situation can be very devastating, but your loved one’s hospice care team is there for you and ready to provide support in any way they can.

Staying Strong During Your Loved One’s Final Days

Mesothelioma hospice is a very difficult time for everyone involved.

Be sure to stand by your loved one’s side as they transition to hospice care in their final days and spend as much time with them as possible. Having loved ones nearby can comfort your loved one and ease any feelings of loneliness.

It is important to remember your loved one is getting the care they deserve as they fight their battle with mesothelioma. In hospice care, the nurses looking after the mesothelioma patient will do everything in their power to make sure your loved one is comfortable, relaxed, and at peace towards the end of their life.

The Mesothelioma Hope team understands how difficult this experience can be for the entire family. If you need help finding mesothelioma hospice care options and/or avenues of emotional support, we are here for you. Contact us through our online chat or over the phone. Remember: there is always hope.

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Mesothelioma Hope was founded by a team of advocates to educate people about this aggressive form of cancer. Mesothelioma affects thousands of people each year. We help give hope to those impacted by mesothelioma.

3 References
  1. Care through the final days. Cancer.Net. (2021, July 30). Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/advanced-cancer/care-through-final-days

  2. End-of-life care. National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/advanced-cancer/care-choices/care-fact-sheet

  3. What is Hospice Care? American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.cancer.org/treatment/end-of-life-care/hospice-care/what-is-hospice-care.html