Caring for a Dying Person

Caring for a loved one at home is one of the most personal and important roles you can undertake.

Caregiving can be a 24-hour job. You will need breaks, time to rest, to get out of the house, and recharge your energy levels. It is important that you maintain daily habits that will help your body and spirits to be in good condition!

Do not hesitate to ask for help. Your friends or members of your faith community may want to help you with your caregiving duties, but they may not know how to approach you with their offer to help. Prepare a list of tasks that need to be done, and don’t be afraid to ask others to help you with your list!

Seek out a companion or respite service for your loved one. Free and fee programs exist in the community. You may consider sending your loved one to an adult day care center while you take the time to care for your own needs.

Learn as much as you can about how to care for your loved one. Find out about his/her condition and how to manage it. Know what to expect and how your loved one’s condition may change so that you are prepared for the future.

Caregiving to a person who is terminally ill may be a new experience for you. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, a nonprofit organization, features a brochure about caring for a dying person. It is available on their web site by selecting the link below:

http://www.caringinfo.org/files/public/EOL_Caregiver_booklet.pdf

For resources to assist with your caregiving responsibilities, select the link below:

Caregiving Resources

The following article has been reprinted from the web site of the ©National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization РCaring Connections June 2006

www.nhpco.org

Telephone: (703) 837-1500

Providing Comfort Care

©National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization РCaring Connections June 2006

As a caregiver you may need to provide for all aspects of your family member or friend’s comfort. People who are very ill or near the end of life have complex needs so it is important to know various ways to provide support.

Physical Comfort

It is very important for you to ask the person you are caring for if they are comfortable. Their health care providers need to know if they are experiencing physical pain, breathing problems, confusion or other symptoms so that they can work to ease the distress. By talking with the person’s physician and other healthcare providers, pain medication and other therapies can be provided to achieve a level of comfort.

Throughout the day, ask your family member or friend if they are comfortable. If they are experiencing pain ask them to describe the pain rate it on a scale of 0-10. Write down everything they say and review this before you call the physician and health care provider. If you have specific questions, write them down too. As you talk with the physician or health care provider, write down the answers you receive so that you can refer to the information later.

Emotional and Spiritual Comfort

In addition to physical pain, your family member or friend may experience emotional and spiritual pain. They are experiencing many losses including the loss of control over their own life. It is important for you to continue to explain what is happening with your family member or friend’s care, condition, and any other changes. Talk with a social worker, psychotherapist or clergy to help you find resources for additional emotional and spiritual support.

Take some time each day to talk to your family member or friend about their feelings and to share your feelings with them. Be patient and listen to what they want to share with you. Whatever feelings they have – let them know that they have a right to feel that way; do not try and talk them out of their feelings. Your family member or friend may wish to discuss their fears, concerns or distress with someone else, encourage them to do so. Offer to contact a friend, counselor or chaplain, and give them privacy when they discuss these issues with another.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for medical, legal, or professional advice. You should always consult with your doctor, financial advisor, lawyer, or other certified professional for personalized advisement.
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