When your loved one faces a terminal illness diagnosis, no matter what stage they’re in now, we know that you’re thinking about the future.
The truth is that it’s never too early to start planning for the best way to approach end of life care.
Many people opt for hospice care at home, especially to make the patient comfortable.
But is it the right choice for you — and your mental health?
Read on to find out.
In this post, we’ll tell you five of the most important things that you need to know when it comes to caring for hospice patients in your home.
1. Understand Medical Instructions
Even for hospice patients and those who are in the end of life stages of care, it’s important to always familiarize yourself with the medical instructions doctors give you.
Yes, medication, dietary restrictions, and other rules to follow may not be able to extend the life of your loved one.
However, they will do a lot to help to keep home care as comfortable as possible. These medications can also help lower the severity of the pain a patient experiences, and can even prevent or lower the levels of mental stress.
2. Listen to the Patient
When it comes to opting for hospice care, many of the choices you make will be up to the wishes of the patient themselves.
Some days, they may feel like interacting with visitors, doing arts and crafts projects, or looking at old family photos.
Other days, however, they may not be well enough to handle anything other than sleeping and eating.
Under no circumstances should you force the patient to do things they don’t want or can’t do. Remember that the patient might not remember what’s going on. Memory care will help, but it still requires understanding and patience.
Try to give in to as many of the patients wishes as are possible.
3. Focus on Location and Bedding
It may seem like a small detail now, but trust us when we tell you that the location of the patient’s bed makes a huge difference when you opt for hospice care at home.
They may feel more comfortable in their usual bedroom, or they may need to be closer to a bathroom. They may even want to be in a room with more light than their bedroom has to offer.
Plus, putting them in the living room means that the patient has more foot traffic, preventing feels of loneliness and isolation.
It also means that you’ll be able to get help for them in the case of a basic need or an emergency.
Additionally, when it comes to the bedding itself, you should do everything possible to make it comfortable and luxurious. Many patients may recognize the bed as a sign of the end, so you should expect some initial resistance when it first arrives.
You can ease this challenging transition by making the bed as comfortable as is possible.
Buying fabulous and brightly-colored sheets, mattress toppers, and comfortable pillows will help. Of course, you should aim to keep the sheets as clean as possible.
4. Take Care of Yourself, Too
Caregiver stress is a serious, yet often overlooked, part of home hospice services.
You will likely deal with feelings of extreme sadness, exhaustion, and — it’s ok to say it — even frustration when you’re caring for hospice patients in your home.
To provide the best possible care to the patient, however, you also need to take care of yourself. This will prevent you from lashing out at the patient or your other family members. It will also help you to keep your emotions in check, and to help you to plan for your life after the patient passes on.
Take breaks. Share responsibilities with your other family members. Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up some groceries for you, or bring over a plate of hot food.
It’s ok to take time for yourself, in order for you to be able to make the final few weeks of a person’s life special and comfortable.
5. It’s OK to Ask for Help
Especially if you have younger children, a full-time job, or any other kind of responsibilities, you need to accept that taking on all the duties of hospice care at home won’t always be possible for you.
Sometimes, you do need the help of a professional — even if only for a few days a week.
Experienced and trusted caregivers and home care assistants can help with everything from changing and moving a patient to driving your kids to soccer practice.
Make sure that you take a look at the training, employee screening and qualification process, and levels of care provided.
For more information on the costs and benefits of home health care assistance, click here to visit the Families Choice Home Care website.
Caring for Hospice Patients is About Comfort and Compassion
We know that caring for hospice patients is challenging.
However, we also know that you’ll do anything and everything possible to cherish the moments of a loved one’s final days, and make them as comfortable as possible.
Remember, however, that it’s important to take care of yourself, and to ask for help when you need it.
Looking for more advice about end of life care?
Want to know more about what to expect out of caring for a loved one at any age?
We can help.
Visit our website and blog to learn more about how to make the most of not only a patient’s life but also of your own.