My 85 yo sister goes between hospital and nursing home with low blood pressure, low oxygen, bleeding ulcer, arrhythmia. She eats and drinks very little when coaxed and is no longer responding or talking to nurses or on the phone to us. (We cannot be with her because of the virus at this time.) She belongs to a local parish. My brother and I are her nearest relatives and poa for her care. Her doctor today suggested we begin hospice care for her. She never shows improvement, just steady decline. How do we know when to call for a priest, or will her caregivers help us in that decision?

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It's never to early to request annointing of the sick. I waited until my wife was in a coma before asking my parish priest to visit my wife. He got up from behind his desk and came immediatly. Don't wait that long. Give your sister the benefit of acknowledging that sacrament. Incidently, one doesn't need to be dying to receive the sacrement. Any sick person can receive it.
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Reply to sjplegacy

My mom, who was Catholic, had the Sacrament for the Sick at least 10 times that I can recall during the 4.5 years that she was in a NH post stroke and post surgical hip repair. This is no longer the "big deal" that it was when I was growing up: there was a priest on staff at the NH and he would pop in any time mom seemed to be taking a turn of some sort.

If your loved one is at some sort of transition point, get a priest in. It certainly can't hury.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

I requested a Priest the first time my Loved One was diagnosed with Covid, and they know that she’s an active Catholic.

The former “Last Rites/Extreme Unction” is now referred to as the “Sacrament of the Sick”. You may request and receive this Sacrament more than once.

In your situation, I’d contact the Priest from her Parish and ask him what guidance he’d give you in the situation.
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Reply to AnnReid

I am not a Catholic, but as a nurse I can tell you that you can call ANY time. The Sacrament of the Sick is no longer considered last rites. It has not been for a long, long time. That is, it doesn't have to mean you are dying. It can simply mean that you are very sick. Call the priest any time you like.
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Reply to AlvaDeer

Thank all of you so, so very much! I appreciate all you comments and advice.
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Reply to OldAlto

We just requested the sacrament of the sick for my brother before COVID. You can request it from her local church or when he is hospitalized
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Reply to MACinCT

You should do Sacrament of the Sick now. Many people wait too long before calling a priest. It could peace to your sister.

My brother was in a long term facility and the priest gave him the Sacrament of the Sick and his numbers improved and he was calmer.
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Reply to InMyShoes

Speaking as a Catholic, please contact her parish priest and explain the situation. Anytime a person is in bad health, faces radical surgery, etc. etc., this sacrament is wise. Please do not wait. The priest can provide the sacrament of reconciliation, as well as the sacrament of the sick, peace and encouragement. Waiting too long denies her the comfort of the sacrament. Do not imagine that this sacrament is conferred only at the last minute. I am very much alive and have received it. You would not recommend waiting till near the end before executing a will, POA, healthcare wishes. So why delay provision for your death and entry into everlasting life!
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Reply to rovana

Hospice is a good idea. Not much will change with her care other than it will be given by Hospice Team AND the hospital staff or Nursing home staff will also attend to her.
You can contact a Priest at any time.
As a matter of fact it might be a great comfort to your sister to have a Priest there.
Hospice also has Chaplains as well as Priests that will see your sister if she/ you wish.
The Sacrament of the Sick (Last Rites) can be given any time and it may be given more than once.
I am sure any Priest or clergy will tell you that it is never a wrong time to contact them .
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Reply to Grandma1954

I am a practicing Catholic. Before COVID, many parishes in my area had an anointing of the sick as part of a Saturday mass. I have had it many times to deal with emotional stuff. It’s quite helpful.

If a local priest is willing to come often, it may help & comfort your sister during this time. I’ll pray for her.
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Reply to MMasonSt

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