There are few moments in life – if any – that are more distressing than watching a loved endure a terminal illness. For those who are the primary caregiver for a family member during this stage, this period is especially painful. If you are providing end-of-life care for a loved one, you are no doubt deeply concerned with their physical and emotional comfort. The following essential principles of end-of-life care can help you provide excellent care and comfort during this trying stage.
Though caregivers sometimes find it uncomfortable to talk openly about death, many terminally ill patients find it helpful to do so. Honest conversations allow them to express their feelings and even to confront their fears. In addition, talking openly about plans for the future (involving their estate, funeral arrangements or the care of their pets, for example) can help them have peace of mind. Knowing that they are not leaving any loose ends untied, so to speak, can offer a powerful sense of comfort and relief.
Though not true of all cases, many terminal illnesses can cause intense pain and discomfort. Even though every case is different, both physicians and patients agree on one universal truth: it is far easier to prevent pain than to relieve it. While there are still benefits to being cautious with pain medicine and choosing lower doses, the priority for end-of-life and palliative care is comfort. Some patients and families are hesitant to use Morphine or other opiates, for example, believing that such medicines can hasten death. When used properly, however, even high doses of pain medicine can both extend and improve the patient’s quality of life. Careful planning and attention detail can help keep pain under control.
It’s very easy to become overwhelmed with practical demands and day-to-day activities. What most patients prefer during end-of-life care, however, is quality time with their loved ones. Quiet moments shared together are often the greatest comfort a terminally ill patient can receive. During these moments, both patients and their loved ones should feel free to honestly express their emotions – even fear and sadness.
When the primary caregiver role puts too much pressure on one person, cracks are sure to develop. A caregiver might even find their relationship with the patient to be faltering. Families should be mindful of the primary caregiver’s needs, if there is one, and seek out ways to share weighty responsibilities among themselves. When tasks are shared between family, loved ones and even professional caregivers, it is much easier to enjoy the final days together.
Fedelta Home Care has provided exceptional palliative, end-of-life, and home care for over two decades. Our dedicated professionals, located throughout the Puget Sound area, can offer guidance and practical assistance to patients needing any kind of home medical care, including providing part-time and live-in home care. Contact us today to learn more about hospice care and our other services.