How In-Home Caregivers Can Best Prepare for End-of-Life Situations
While end-of-life care planning has become a more mainstream idea in recent years, it can still be an uncomfortable topic for many families. But the fact remains that just as individual people are unique, so too are their end-of-life experiences.
As such, it warrants the same consideration and preparation as any other major life event.
Does End of Life Mean the End of Care?
For both patients and caregivers, maintaining quality of life at this stage will be a central focus. For many, that simply means transitioning to assisted in-home hospice care that helps patients maintain their lifestyle while receiving the support they need.
Mentally Preparing Yourself for the Situation
Although planning for end of life often focuses on the patient, it's also important to maintain care for caregivers as well. Whether in-home hospice care is provided by a family member or caregiver service, it can be challenging to prepare for the inevitable.
Try these steps to maintain your own strength and positivity:
Find a support community you can turn to, either locally or online, to share your experiences with and turn to for advice.
Make time to make new memories. Plan regular outings or special activities that will both enrich the patient's time and create memorable moments.
Remind yourself that you've been chosen as an important part of the patient's life story and that they're an important part of yours.
Providing Assurance to Family Members
Family members can sometimes be nervous leaving their loved one in the care of an in-home provider who isn't previously known to the family.
Here are a few ways to ease concerns and establish a positive relationship:
Discuss and come to an agreement on the aspects of the patient's life you will be assisting with, as well as general expectations.
Ask them directly about any concerns they have and address them at the outset.
Establish a plan for regular communication, so there's always a two-way flow of information.
Managing the Patient's Condition
The transition to the final stages of life can be especially difficult for the patient, in addition to any preexisting medical conditions.
But here are a few tips to help them cope:
Start the conversation early, before care is needed. Having legal and final wishes documented and prepared ahead of time can alleviate worries.
Assure them that with the right level of assistance, they can continue to lead a fulfilling life according to their individual plan.
Help them stay connected to the world to avoid feelings of loneliness and isolation as they become less independent.
These are only a few of the considerations when preparing for end-of-life situations. Luckily, there are numerous resources available for patients and caregivers that can help during this journey.
AARP provides a wealth of information on their website, including a caregiving planning guide for families. The Family Caregiver Alliance provides support, education, and advocacy for those providing care for loved ones.
Dennis Silva is Co-Founder of Omni Care Hospice, a provider of compassionate, quality home hospice care in Las Vegas that meets the needs of people with life-limiting illnesses and their families.