End of Life Caregiving
It will be very important for you to ask the person you are caring for if they are comfortable. The 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.
- Ask your loved one 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.
- 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 loved one 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 loved ones care, condition, and any other changes.
- Try and take time each day to talk to them about their feelings and to share your feelings with them.
- Be patient with yourself and the care recipient. 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 loved one 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 your loved one privacy.
- Ask for help. The best way you can support someone else is to take care of yourself.
Care for Yourself
Caregiving can be a rewarding and exhausting experience. It is important that you manage the stress of being a caregiver by attending to your needs.
- Make a list of specific things that you need help with: grocery shopping, laundry, errands, lawn care, housecleaning, or spending time with the care recipient so you can do something else. When someone says "let me know if there is anything I can do" point to the list!
- Take a break from caregiving-even if it is 15 minutes a day that you do something just for you.
Exercise and eat healthy.
- Subscribe to caregiving newsletters or Listservs for advice/support when caregiving for a loved one.
- Attend a support group for caregivers.
- Pay attention to your needs and seek professional help to address grief, anxiety, or other issues. Many caregivers have times when they are lonely, anxious, guilty, angry, scared, frustrated, confused, lost and tired. If you feel like these feelings are overwhelming you, call your doctor, hospice or another community resource (see below) for help.