Post # 1
For those of you who don’t know, my Grandma is on hospice care at my parents’, and has been on a steady decline. Today, she reached the point where she can barely swallow and the hospice nurse said that she’ll probably stop eating and drinking this weekend, and we’re not to try if she doesn’t want it. They are still reluctant to tell us more, but I was wondering, for the bees with hospice experience. Are we looking at days, at this point?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Post # 3
This really isn’t a question anyone can answer, it’s really difficult to predict when someone will pass. My best advice is if you’re really close spend as much time as you can with her. I’m sorry you’re going through this.
Post # 4
Thats a totally normal part of the process. Once organs start shutting down, the desire and ability to take water/food goes away. Know that between the medications they give her, and the natural process of dying – she is not feeling discomfort of hunger or thirst.
As for how long it takes, it depends on the condition of her heart and blood pressure. My grandmother had cancer in her brain, lungs, and bone – but her heart was extremely healthy – so she lived for 5 days after her last intake of water. During that time, she was sleeping peacefully and opening her eyes once in a while and squeezing our hands.
Pay close attention to the pattern of her breathing and the color of her fingers and toes. When its getting to be a matter of hours, you’ll notice her extremeties start to turn pale and then bluish, and her breathing rate will become sporadic and irregular. I want to warn you, the hardest part is that there may be moments where she’ll stop breathing for what feels like a really long time, and you’ll think shes gone – but then she’ll take a breath again. The hospice nurse warned us this would happen, but it still felt like torture each time. Also, as much as you may feel like being at her bedside each moment, I think a lot of people wait until they are alone to let go. The day we thought for sure she was going to pass, our family spent the entire day in the room, and left at 10pm with her still breathing. She passed just an hour or so later – she wanted to be alone.
Rest assured, the hospice people have been through every variety of death and reactions to it. They are your best resource for questions and support. They are truly amazing people for doing what they do.
Post # 5
I am so sorry! I also second that you should spend as much time as you can with her. I don’t have hospice experience, but I know that you cannot live for very many days without drinking water. I’m not sure if she’s getting anything IV though.
Post # 6
@maureen9004: Thank you, Maureen. I definitely appreciate your concern.
I know it’s an impossible question for anyone to answer, but the researcher in me is hoping that, by hearing what other people have experienced, I’ll have a better idea of what to expect (other than the hospice physical benchmarks).
Post # 7
@mandypop: Thank you, this is very helpful.
@MademoiselleL: I am absolutely chomping at the bit to leave and go over there. I generally go each night and weekend, and I love to read to her.
Post # 8
I’m so sorry you’re going thru this. The people that work for Hospice are some of the most kind, caring and understanding people i’ve ever met. I’m not sure how they do what they do.
I’ve had two family members involved with hospice care. My uncle was home for almost 2weeks before he passed away. The other one was my great aunt that I took care of. She came home from the hospital and it was about a week before she passed away. I would spend as much time as you can with your grandma and your family.
I Also, please make sure you take care of yourself, lots of water, it’s definitely a draining time.
Post # 9
You’re welcome. I just went through this in July, so if you have any questions or want to talk, please feel free to message me.
Post # 10
I know people say this is a question that you cant really say for sure what will happen but from what I went through at that point it was just a matter of a few days. I am so sorry your family is going through this I know how hard it is. Its wonderful that family is caring for her and not shoving her off on a hospital or nursing home. You all will cherish this extra time with her and know you did everthing in your power to care for her for the rest of your lives
Post # 11
I’m a nursing student, and also had the experience of the events prior to my grandmother passing. It sounds like she’s begining to shut down. The requirement of less food is typical. No one can say how long, an estimate of days, a week or weeks is going to be pretty accurate. The human body is amazing and it wants to keep going, so there’s really no way to know. I’m sorry about your grandma.
Post # 12
I’m so sorry you’re going through this right now. It’s never easy, even when, such as in the case of my grandparents who had Alzheimer’s/dementia, you know it’s the best thing for them.
Mandypop’s post pretty much said everything, so I’ll just share my experience. With my grandpa, it was a few days after he stopped eating/drinking. With my grandma, it was a little longer than that. The family was there when my grandpa passed. We knew it was getting close with my grandma, and someone had been with her at all times for a couple days. My mom and her sister left to get some lunch and look for something for my grandma to wear for the funeral…they were gone maybe two hours, and were less than two miles away when my grandma passed away. My mom felt terrible that she wasn’t there, but IMO, I don’t think my grandma wanted them to be there. She chose the one time the family was gone to pass. And I know good and well she was not alone…her husband and my brother, (who had passed away only a few months before), were with her, I’m sure.
Post # 13
Thank you for all of the support and for sharing your experiences. It makes me feel so much stronger knowing what to expect.
@HisIrishPrincess: Will do–Fi got me my favorite singapore noodles and we’re staying in and snuggling tonight. Much needed!
@Miss Apricot: I heard the same thing from a girl at work; that her dad sent her out for ginger ale and he passed in the twenty minutes she was gone.
Post # 14
Mandypop really said it all. The process of dying is really similar for most people, the time frame is what differs.
while your grandmother is still conscious, spend as much time with her as you can. I remember my grandfather lying in bed, just smiling as my cousins and I sat around, laughing about when we were kids. He worked really hard to provide us with those good times. When each of my grandparents died, the family spent a lot of time together–sharing meals, going through old pictures, reminiscing, etc. The hospice group probably has free counseling, if anyone needs it.
While this is sad and stressful, it can be a peaceful experience. It was much more difficult the first time, with my grandfather. With my grandmothers, we knew what to expect–much easier,
last but not least, I am sorry your family is going through this.
Post # 15
For those of you following the thread, my grandmother passed very peacefully in her sleep on Thursday night. We were there with her, and she actually waited until we were all eating dinner to slip away.
Thank you for all of your kind words and support. It made me much more prepared.
Post # 16
I am sorry for your loss.