If you are caring for a loved one in the last stages of a terminal illness, you yourself are probably suffering right along with the patient. It is nothing but difficult to witness the decline in somebody who once lived a full life and had much to give to those around him or her. It is also hard for you to hear platitudes like, "This, too, shall pass." Even though friends and family mean well, you feel inside that they have no idea what you and your loved one are experiencing together. Here are some ideas that might help you through the upcoming weeks as your loved one moves toward the last stage of life: death.
Are You Taking Care Of Yourself? - If you have ever flown on an airplane, you have listened to the safety directions given at the beginning of a flight. One of the directions is to administer oxygen to yourself before taking care of a child or another person in need. That is actually good counsel for you now that you are caring for a loved one. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you up on your own physical examinations? Does any of your medication need to be refilled? Do you have a good support system to do things like run errands and bring meals to your home? Remember, if you are not in good shape, it will be very hard for you to fully care for the patient.
What Can You Do To Help? - One of the best things you can do is to communicate with the patient at the onset of his or her later stages of illness. Find out if he or she wants to have friends over or if he or she would rather face this difficult time only with close family members. See what activities the patient would enjoy, too.
- Would the patient enjoy listening to audio books?
- What are his or her favorite television shows?
- Are there movies he or she always wanted to watch?
- Would the patient like for you to write letters to friends and family?
Do You Communicate Well With Hospice Workers? - Remember, the professional workers and the volunteers are not only there for the patient, but for the loved ones who are caring for him or her. Open your heart to suggestions they may give, as they have been trained to help you. Also, palliative care workers have the experience needed to guide you through the last days.
For example, if your patient is lingering without any enjoyment in life at all, he or she may be waiting for you to give permission to pass away. The hospice workers can help you to know how to do this. After you have expressed love and appreciation to your loved one for all that he or she has done, you can literally say something like, "You can't imagine how much we will miss you! You've been such an important part of our lives and you've given a great deal to us. You have been an example to us in so many ways. However, if you are ready to leave this earth, please know that we understand. We will do everything in our power to make your last moments easier to bear."
Don't hesitate to cry or to show anger or any other negative emotion to your hospice workers like those from Corner Home Medical. They will help you through all of those emotions.