Guide Meant for Me – Now, Meant for You: Proper Care and Feeding for the Caregiver

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Telling someone in crisis to think positive thoughts is like telling someone with two broken legs to stand up.


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When going through difficult situations, happy thoughts are often not as available as they once were. Telling a patient or caregiver to think positively can cause them to feel unnecessary guilt or internal pressure. Instead of telling someone to think positive thoughts, take some of the pressure off and bring the positivity yourself. Reminisce a funny memory.

Share something hilarious you saw a stranger do the other day. Show them the latest cat video that made you smile. The positive effects of laughter are immense, causing a rush of endorphins, physical relaxation, and boosting the immune system. Some questions to ask yourself when deciding to undertake end-of-life care of a loved one at home:. While the symptoms in the final stages of life vary from patient to patient and according to the type of life-limiting illness, there are some common symptoms experienced near the end of life.

However, some emotions are common to many patients during end-of-life care. Many worry about loss of control and loss of dignity as their physical abilities decline. As a late-stage caregiver, you can offer emotional comfort to your loved one in several different ways:. Keep them company. Talk to your loved one, read to them, watch movies together, or simply sit and hold their hand. Refrain from burdening the patient with your feelings of fear, sadness and loss. Instead, talk to someone else about your feelings. Allow your loved one to express their fears of death.

Try to listen without interrupting or arguing. Allow them to reminisce. Talking about their life and the past is another way some patients gain perspective on their life and the process of dying. Avoid withholding difficult information.

7 Things NOT to Say to a Patient or Caregiver | CaringBridge

Honor their wishes. End-of-life care for many people is often a battle to preserve their dignity and end their life as comfortably as possible. Some patients die gently and tranquilly, while others seem to fight the inevitable. Reassuring your loved one it is okay to die can help both of you through this process.

Although this is a painful time in so many ways, entering end-of-life care does offer you the opportunity to say goodbye to your loved one, an opportunity that many people who lose someone suddenly regret not having. No one can predict when that last minute will come so waiting for it puts a huge burden on you. Just talk, even if your loved one appears unresponsive.

The Painful Choices End-of-Life Brings for the Caregiver

Hearing is the last sense to shut down, so even when your loved one appears comatose and unresponsive, there is a strong likelihood they can still hear what you are saying. Identify yourself and speak from the heart. Touch can be an important part of the last days and hours, too. You can say goodbye many different times and in many different ways. You can do it over days. After your loved one has passed away, some family members and caregivers draw comfort from taking some time to say their last goodbyes, talk, or pray before proceeding with final arrangements.

Give yourself that time if you need it. Research suggests that spousal caregivers are most likely to experience despair rather than any kind of fulfillment in their caregiving role. Many caregivers struggle to make difficult treatment, placement, and intervention choices through the pain of these continuous losses.

While pain and suffering cannot be totally eliminated, you can help to make them tolerable. Even when your loved one cannot speak or smile, their need for companionship remains.


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  • They can no longer recognize you but may still draw comfort from your touch or the sound of your voice. When death is slow and gradual, many caregivers are able to prepare for its intangible aspects, and to support their loved one through the unknown. Talking with family and friends, consulting hospice services, bereavement experts, and spiritual advisors can help you work through these feelings and focus on your loved one.

    Hospice and palliative care specialists and trained volunteers can assist not only the dying person, but also caregivers and family members, too. It can, however, be happy, fulfilling, and healthy again. Being with others who know your situation can help you better understand and come to terms with your feelings.

    Some people find it helpful to write down their thoughts and feelings to help them see things more clearly. Feed your spirit. Pray, meditate, or do another activity that makes you feel part of something greater. Try to find meaning in both your life and in your role as a caregiver.

    Watch out for signs of depression, anxiety, or burnout and seek professional help if needed. Stay social. Make it a priority to visit regularly with other people.

    What is late-stage care?

    Nurture your close relationships. Do things you enjoy. Laughter and joy can help keep you going when you face trials, stress, and pain.

    Maintain balance in your life. Give yourself a break. Take regular breaks from caregiving, and give yourself an extended break at least once a week. Find a community. Join or reestablish your connection to a religious group, social club, or civic organization.

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    The broader your support network, the better. Exercise regularly. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week.

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    Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and boost your energy. Eat right. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress and get through busy days. Keep your energy up and your mind clear by eating nutritious meals at regular intervals throughout the day.

    Caregiving as a ‘Roller-Coaster Ride From Hell’

    Avoid alcohol and drugs. It can be tempting to turn to substances for escape when life feels overwhelming, but they can easily compromise the quality of your caregiving. Instead, try dealing with problems head on and with a clear mind. Get enough sleep. Aim for an average of eight hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep every night. Otherwise, your energy level, productivity, and ability to handle stress will suffer. Keep up with your own health care. Go to the doctor and dentist on schedule, and keep up with your own prescriptions or medical therapy.

    As a caregiver, you need to stay as strong and healthy as possible. Most communities have services to help caregivers. Services that may be available in your community include adult day care centers, home health aides, home-delivered meals, respite care, transportation services, and skilled nursing. Caregiver services in your community. Call your local senior center, county information and referral service, family services, or hospital social work unit for contact suggestions.