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Focused on the needs of people with terminal illnesses, Hospice Care provides medical treatment and other comfort measures to improve quality of life.
Compassionate Hospice Care in NJ & PA
If you or a loved one is coping with a life-limiting illness, it may be time to consider hospice care. Redeemer Health provides compassionate hospice care in New Jersey and the Greater Philadelphia area.
During the advanced stages of an illness, there are physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs that arise. Our specially trained, multidisciplinary staff can provide a range of services, caring for you at home or in an in-patient setting.
Reasons for Hospice
Hospice is a collection of therapy and treatments that are focused on the comfort of individuals who are nearing the end of their health care journey. The goal of hospice care is to improve the quality of life for the patient and their caregivers. People choose hospice for many reasons and can remain on the service for several months. Hospice care includes assistance for the caregiver with counseling, respite care, and other support services.
You may want to consider hospice care for yourself or a loved one in the following situations:
- You have a terminal illness, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and end-stage organ disease.
- You are no longer seeking curative treatment for your illness.
- You need relief from symptoms, such as pain, nausea, loss of appetite, anxiety, and fatigue.
- When families need help with medical decision-making or you need emotional, psychosocial, or spiritual support.
- You want to focus on quality of life and comfort care.
How Hospice Helps
Hospice care can be provided in the home, at a nursing home, or in the hospital. If you choose hospice care at home, Redeemer Health's skilled hospice nurses and other personnel can visit on a regular basis to provide medical care and many other therapies.
Our services for hospice patients include:
- Coordination of care, including care from any other doctors you need to see
- Counseling, including emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual support to help you and your family cope with grief and loss
- Hospice support groups
- Medication management, including medicines to control pain, nausea, anxiety, and other symptoms
- Coordination of durable medical equipment
- Physical therapy and personal care assistance
- Companionship and bereavement services
Hospice Care at Holy Redeemer Hospital
If in-patient services are required, Redeemer Health brings hospice care directly to a patient’s hospital bedside no matter where the bed is located in the hospital. Care focuses on controlling severe pain and symptoms so, if possible, patients can return to their own home or skilled nursing facility to begin or resume routine hospice care.
Redeemer Health Offers Complementary or Alternative Therapies for Hospice Patients
Redeemer Health also provides alternative therapies that complement the effectiveness of traditional medical care. They can help reduce the effects of fear, worry, and stress on both the patient, during the end stages of an illness, and the family, during their caregiving and bereavement period. We provide these therapies without fee for those in the hospice program.
Alternative therapies offered at Redeemer Health include:
- Healing touch
- Guided imagery and meditation
- Music therapy and performances
- Pet therapy
Whether you need hospice care at home or in our hospital, the care team at Redeemer Health is happy to answer any questions you may have about our hospice services. Please call 888-678-8678 to learn more or to coordinate an admission.
Redeemer offers hospice care in Philadelphia, Bucks, and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania and Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, and Salem counties in New Jersey.
When death is near
As death approaches, the body slowly and naturally shuts down. There are physical signs indicating that death is near, which usually occur days or hours before death.
Usually, the process includes:
- Decreased responsiveness
- Semi-coma like state
- Cannot be aroused to sound of name or light touch
- Eyes may be closed, or half-open, glassy or tearing. If open, the eyes may appear to “look past you".
- Skin color changes as the heart slows down
- Usually, the hands and feet become cool and bluish-purple, which may progress to the knees, elbows, and back.
- Also, skin color on other parts of the body may become very pale, sallow yellow, or white.
- Breathing changes
- Initially, breathing may be fast and labored, then slow and stop [apnea] from seconds to over a minute in an ongoing pattern. This can appear days before death occurs.
- Then, breathing becomes rapid and regular. At times, the breathing may sound congested, like a rattle or gurgle, but is usually caused by mouth secretions collecting in the back of the throat.
- Lastly, the breathing becomes shallow, quiet, and slows.
- The breathing rhythm looks mechanical.
- At any time there may be an audible sigh or moan. These sounds are caused by air passing over the relaxed vocal cords causing them to vibrate and sound. This is not a sign of pain or distress.
- The lower jaw may move as if your loved one is trying to speak.
What is happening inside?
Skin discoloration occurs as the blood pools inside the body due to a weakening heart. Decreasing mental responsiveness occurs as the blood flow decreases to vital organs, including the brain. As the vital organs naturally shut down, less oxygen is required by the organs, and breathing patterns change to meet these new, lesser requirements.
Usually, it is hard for the family and caregivers to hear “noisy” breathing. The family may worry that their loved one is experiencing some distress. Always look to your loved one’s face to determine if they are comfortable or uncomfortable.
There is nothing you can do at this time for your loved one that would be wrong or inappropriate. Trust your inner feelings and act as you think best based on what you see. However, if you are unsure about anything, it is always okay to call the hospice nurse to discuss your questions or concerns.
Here are some ways you can ease the dying process:
- Medicate your loved one for signs of pain, congested or labored breathing, or restlessness, as directed by your hospice nurse and physician.
- For temperature changes, adjust the covers, apply a cool compress to the forehead for a fever, and socks to cold feet.
- Offer small sips of water, if your loved one is awake and able to swallow. Near death, the body cannot process food or fluid comfortably or to any benefit.
- Mouth care--frequently moisten the lips, gum line, and tongue with swabs or toothettes dampened with warm water. Avoid using alcohol-based mouthwashes, as they only further dry the mouth.
- It is important to keep the mouth clean if you are using medications that absorb under the tongue. Swab the mouth with toothettes prior to giving medications under the tongue.
- Apply Vaseline to dry lips, except when oxygen is in use. Discuss alternatives with your hospice nurse.
- Keep the skin clean and bed linens dry.
- Position your loved one in bed for comfort by using the electronic bed controls to elevate the foot and head of the bed slightly and frequently. Or use extra pillows and towel rolls to support good body alignment and ease the discomfort of constant bed rest.
- Always assume that your loved one can hear what is spoken, even if they cannot respond verbally. Look for subtle, non-verbal signs of response, like a moan, an attempt to raise an eyebrow, the lifting of a finger, or the slight squeeze of a hand.
- Your gentle touch and quiet presence are safe and comforting.
- “Being with” your loved one is now more important than “doing for” them.
- If you have not already done so and it feels appropriate for you at this time, tell your loved one that you will miss them, but that you will be okay without them and they do not need to worry about you.
- Reminisce - read a favorite poem or inspirational piece of literature.
- When your loved one awakens from periods of sleep, remind them of where they are and who is present.
The last breath
As your loved one draws their last breath, you may hear and see some of the following signs:
- Quiet shallow breathing that slows to a final stop.
- Audible exhalation as the final breath is released.
- After your loved one has died, you may notice what appears to be a few additional “breaths,” as the lungs empty of air.
- Facial changes
- The eyes may open wide and then close, or remain partially open.
- The lower jaw muscles may relax and the jaw falls open.
Supporting the Family through Life and Loss
The burden of care on a family member can be physically and emotionally overwhelming; that’s why our hospice services include emotional support, education, and counseling for the family.
Following the loss of a loved one can be a challenging experience and grieving is a process that is different for everyone.
Working through Grief
During the grieving process, it is common for individuals to move – some times back and forth – through several stages of grief such as:
- Depression, loneliness, and isolation
- Physical symptoms
- Feelings of panic
- Inability to return to daily routine
- Return to feelings of hopefulness
There are also normal physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms of grief:
- Lack of energy
- Headaches, upset stomach
- Excessive sleeping or excessive activity
- Memory lapses, lack of ability to concentrate
- Depression or feelings of euphoria
- Extreme anger or feelings of resignation
- Feelings of closeness with God
- Feeling anger at God
Extended Grief Support
For 13 months after the loss of a loved one, the bereavement counselors at Redeemer Health Hospice continue to provide support for the family through support groups, mailings, counseling, and one-on-one encouragement, all at no additional fee. Memorial services are held twice annually and provide family members with an opportunity for remembrance.
If continued care is needed after 13 months, Redeemer Health behavioral health providers can help the family cope with grief, which, for some, can be prolonged.
Redeemer Health Home Care and Hospice PA
Home Care Administrative Office
12265 Townsend Road
Philadelphia, PA 19154
Redeemer Health Home Care and Hospice NJ Shore
Home Care Administrative Office
6550 Delilah Road, Suite 501
Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
Redeemer Health Home Care and Hospice North Jersey
354 Union Avenue
Elizabeth, NJ 07208
Redeemer Health Home Care and Hospice NJ South
Home Care Administration Office
160 East 9th Avenue, Suite B
Runnemede, NJ 08078