Anxiety at End of Life

end-of-life-anxietyDear Kirsten: 

I am the caregiver for my great Aunt who is 87 years old. She has multiple health issues and her physician just recommended we consider hospice care for her. I haven’t yet spoken with her about it. She has so much anxiety already that I’m not sure how she will take this news. Do you have any advice to offer?

Francine in Ft. Collins, Colorado


Dear Francine:

I’m sorry to hear about your great Aunt’s declining health. Hospice care is a great support for both patients and families. A good hospice partner can be especially beneficial in helping to control anxiety at the end-of-life. They do that in a few ways:

Providing Spiritual Care

  • Hospice uses an interdisciplinary approach to care. A part of that is to help treat not just the body, but the mind and spirit too. Helping patients find answers to unresolved life issues and to answer bigger questions in their life such as, “What was the meaning of my life?” can help them calm their inner turmoil and help them find peace.

Symptom Control

  • For many people with a life-limiting illness, the symptoms of their disease lead to anxiety. Conditions such as chronic pain and shortness of breath are two of the most common. Hospice teams are experienced at finding ways to manage symptoms and alleviate anxiety.

Alternative Therapies

  • As patients try to grapple with a serious illness, they may have a hard time understanding and expressing their feelings. Alternative therapies offered by hospice can help with that. Music therapy, massage therapy, pet therapy, and art therapy are a few examples.

Caregiver Education

  • For some caregivers, the fear of not knowing what to expect next with their loved one’s disease can increase anxiety. That can be unknowingly passed on to a loved one who senses their discomfort. Educating both patients and families on the typical course the disease may take can help them know what to expect. That can reduce anxiety at end-of-life.

I hope this helps you understand how hospice might be able to help you find ways to better manage your aunt’s anxiety during this emotional transition.



From personal care needs and case management to guardianship concerns, Seniors in Transition provides consulting services to help families turn frustrating health care problems into quality, affordable solutions. Seniors in Transition is here to help families in the Fort Collins, CO and Loveland, CO areas. Visit our website at or call 970.204.6977 today.


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