Anxiety is a common struggle at the end of life. Psychiatrists tell us that is partly because death is a primordial anxiety – we all have it somewhere deep within us. Some believe that death anxiety is inversely proportional to life satisfaction. According to John Hinton in Death, Anxiety and Psychotherapy, “When life had appeared satisfying, dying was less troublesome… lesser satisfaction with past life went with a more troubled view of the illness and its outcome.”
There are many ways hospice works with patients to help them cope with anxiety. They include:
- Spiritual Care – Part of the clinical team approach of hospice is to treat each individual holistically, focusing on mind, body and spirit. We may not have answers to all the existential questions of life and death like, “What was the meaning of my life?” or “What happens to me after I die?” But we can help to calm the inner turmoil many patients with a life-limiting illness face by standing by them and offering psychosocial support while they discover their own answers.
- Symptom Control – For some patients, the symptoms of their disease cause anxiety. Shortness of breath and pain are two of the most common. Hospice physicians and clinicians can help find ways to better manage symptoms and alleviate this type of anxiety.
- Help Patients Express Feelings. As patients try to grapple with their diagnosis, they may have a hard time understanding and expressing their feelings. Working with their hospice Social Worker and Chaplain can help patients to find creative and productive ways to work through expressing the multitude of feelings they’re experiencing.
- Support Groups – Patients newly diagnosed with a life-limiting illness may find it beneficial to join a support group made up of others in their situation. Even online support groups give people the opportunity to connect with others who can relate to what they are facing. The hospice psychosocial team can connect patients and their families to these available resources.
- Patient Education – For some, the fear of not knowing or understanding their disease process may create high anxiety. Hospice RNs educate patients on the typical course the disease may take and can help them know what to expect. That can make a huge difference in reducing their anxiety.
While end-of-life can bring a rollercoaster of emotions and fear for both patients and their families, working closely with a hospice team can help them manage the ups and downs. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of hospice, visit the Halcyon Hospice website or call us today at 855-328-1700.