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How to Provide Support for a Loved One Receiving End of Life Care

Apr 6, 2017 by Gregg Gammello

End of Life care is needed at different times for everyone, a decision that should ultimately be made by the patient and their involved friends and family with the help of medical direction. However, ultimately it is a personal decision, transitioning between fighting an illness and making the choice to quit that course of action and then to focus on palliative care options. If your loved one has decided to make this choice, then they will need a caregiver.

An Overview of Caregiving as They Transition to Traditional Care

Caregivers providing non-medical support for a person facing end of life care, they will need to be mindful of the physical and emotional challenges that are faced during this difficult time. Medical assistance is often provided as a means for maintaining pain and comfort. These methods are a control function, rather than focusing on fixing or curing the patient. With those areas of medical care being covered, a non-medical caregiver can provide additional measures to ensure that a person that is facing the end can do so in a dignified and comfortable manner. They will be responsible for assisting with emotional and physical challenges.

Physical Support

On one hand, end of life care is similar to that which you see for most aging elders. Beyond helping with daily chores, cooking or bathing there may be a need for someone to help move, get positioned in bed or remember to take medications. Many late-stage treatments, can cause difficulties with eating, sleeping or breathing. End of life care professionals are familiar with the specifics but family or friends that maintain some responsibility during this time should also be informed of medical direction, distress signals to watch for and potential areas that will present a gap in care. 

Other physical support responsibilities can be anything from making sure they have the fan on like they want to run errands for medications. It is important to remember that while things may seem simple they can make all the difference for your loved one.

Emotional Support

Friends and family are often the first lines of care when it comes to the emotional support system in place for an elder in the final stages. This is where end of life care will look less like a service or responsibility. There will be plenty of times that a senior will simply need company. Things like reading to your loved one, watching a movie with them, or letting them tell you old stories can bring them more joy and understanding than you may even realize.

Some of the harder parts of emotional support can be just as important. Things like going over what their wishes are or keeping them informed, especially if it happens to be bad news, can be difficult for you but can also be very important to your loved one.

In this difficult time of your loved one’s life, it is important for them to know that they can voice their fears and concerns to you without fear of rejection or anger from you. This is a very difficult time for you as well so it is best to have someone who you can discuss your own fears and worries with, without worrying about your loved one more. Additional resources are available to help cope with the emotional difficulties of end of life care – you are not alone.

References:

https://www.compassionandsupport.org/index.php/for_patients_families

 

Comfort Keepers of Lansdale, PA provides senior care services to the following cities and neighborhoods:

Ambler, Colmar, Earlington, Franconia, Gwynedd, Gwynedd Valley, Hatfield, Hilltown, Kulpsville, Lansdale, Line Lexington, Montgomeryville, No Wales, Rushland, Sellersville, Souderton, Spring House, Telford, Tylersport, West Point and Worcester

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