When caring for a terminally ill loved one, you can help make their end-of-life transition as comfortable, peaceful, and dignified as possible. In-home palliative care can often lead to a better quality of life for individuals rather than being confined to a hospital bed.
How To Care For A Family Member With A Terminal Illness
- Ask Your Loved One What They Need
- Speak Openly, Honestly & With Compassion
- Develop A Routine & Stay Consistent
- Position Your Loved One Comfortably
- Provide Easily Digestible Meals
- Manage Nausea & Constipation
- Stay In Touch With Medical Staff
- Don’t Forget To Take Care Of Yourself
- Let Your Loved One Lead The Way
- What Does Your Loved One Need?
If your loved one is able to communicate, one of the kindest things you can do is to ask them what they need rather than making all of the decisions for them. Be there to listen and support them if they want to talk and spend more time together. Similarly, if they want to listen to music, read, engage in spiritual practices, or have visitors over, be respectful and supportive of their wishes.
Be Open, Honest & Compassionate
Many caregivers often keep secrets or mislead their loved ones to protect them from additional stress. Even if you mean well, this can be frustrating for some individuals because it seems like you aren’t respecting their dignity and are only viewing them through the lens of their illness. Instead of being secretive during this stressful transition, make space for open, heart-to-heart conversations if they wish.
Follow A Consistent Routine
Creating a daily checklist of tasks to complete at the same time every day can aid in creating a sense of stability and maximizing comfort for your loved one. This may include medication administration, meal times, hygiene, skincare, etc.
Place Your Loved One In A Comfortable Position
Laying or sitting in the same position for extended periods of time can be stressful on the body and cause discomfort. In order to prevent bed sores, muscle cramps, and other painful complications, help them change positions as frequently as necessary. Pillows, fresh bedding, egg crate mattresses, and gentle massages as needed can all help your loved one feel as comfortable as possible.
Provide Easy-To-Digest Meals
Another benefit of in-home care is that your family member does not have to rely solely on low-quality hospital food. Fruit juice, pureed soups, protein drinks, apple juice popsicles, Jell-O, pudding, ice cream, and saltine crackers are all easily digestible, tasty, and less likely to cause choking than foods that require lots of chewing. If your hospice nurse believes it is safe, consider offering them “pleasure feeds,” which allow them to savor small bites of food they enjoy.
Manage Nausea & Constipation
Offering small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day, rather than standard three-square meals, can help reduce nausea and vomiting. Never force your loved ones to eat if they are not hungry, and try to minimize the amount of grease in the food that you serve. Encourage (but don’t force) them to drink plenty of fluids and eat bran or fiber supplements to reduce constipation. If they are still suffering because of digestive issues, ask your medical provider to prescribe laxatives or anti-nausea medication.
Stay In Touch With Your Medical Team
As your family member nears the end of their life, their medication needs may change. This is one of the ways in which in-home hospice care can prove helpful. If they are experiencing pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, or other issues, be sure to contact your hospice nurse or primary care provider so that they can prescribe more meds as necessary.
Take Care Of Yourself Too
Providing good end-of-life care on your own can be exhausting. The responsibility of caregiving may overwhelm people, but friends, family members, and hospice nurses can help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and burnt out, there is no shame in sharing the responsibilities so that you have enough time to eat, sleep, and process some of your grief.
Follow Your Loved One’s Lead
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to listen to their wishes and desires. If they decline food and water, it is important to respect their choice rather than forcing them to eat or drink, as this can make them feel worse. Likewise, it can be harmful to force them to socialize when they aren’t feeling well or to deny their requests to have visitors when they are feeling up to it.
In-Home Hospice Care In Clark County, NV
Many people with life-limiting illnesses want to spend the remainder of their lives at home rather than in a hospital. However, navigating the end-of-life caregiving process is very stressful and emotionally taxing for everyone involved. That is why it is beneficial to hire licensed hospice nurses who are medically qualified and who will respect your loved one’s dignity and wishes. Contact us today to hire a compassionate in-home caregiver.