As a loved one enters end-of-life care, family members can feel overwhelmed; wondering if they are saying the right things, being supportive enough, or if their presence is making a difference. Knowing what to say can be very difficult, especially in a situation one may have never experienced before. While the experience can be stressful at times, caring for a loved one during their life’s end is a great privilege and can give a deeper perspective in the timeline of life. If you doubt that you have the skills to make a difference in this phase of life, remember that you can provide emotional, spiritual, and physical care if you follow these tips:
- Make decisions with the dying loved one.
When a friend or family member is nearing death, terms such as “palliative care” and “hospice” will often be mentioned as services to aid in their comfort. If you do not know the difference between these services, Aspire Home Health & Hospice has written a blog detailing the benefits of each service https://aspireutah.com/what-is-the-difference-between-palliative-care-and-hospice/. Beyond these services, treatment plans may be discussed as well as other factors that can improve the quality of life for the loved one. It is important to walk hand-in-hand with these individuals and guide them towards the decisions that best improve their remaining days.
- Visit often.
End-of-life care can seem sad and gloomy, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Spending time with your friend or family member and giving them a constant support network can make their final days full of comfort and joy! By visiting often, many people have strengthened their bond with the loved one more than ever before and speak fondly of this time that they had together. Being able to read the situation each visit will help give the right approach to enhance the experience of the dying loved one.
- Provide care when needed.
Sometimes the individual will require care here and there that you can easily help with. A few issues you may notice include: not eating, dryness around the face, and sensitivity to temperature. If they are not eating, try to feed small spoonfuls of food. Their face may be dry for which you can use a damp cloth to relieve any dryness that is around their eyes, and apply lip balm to their lips. If they feel hot or cold to the touch, adjust the room temperature as needed. Paying attention to these small hints can go a long way to increasing comfort.
- Take care of any errands that may arise.
Everyone has errands that need to be completed, and this doesn’t change during the end of life. Your family member or friend may need groceries, lawn care, or dishes cleaned. Lending a helping hand can go a long way in providing additional care that they may not expect from anyone. Going an extra mile and picking up food from their favorite restaurant can show even more how much you want them to feel loved.
- Decorate the house for any holidays to help celebrate these times.
Especially as Christmas approaches, sprucing up the loved one’s home with little decorations or festive pieces can brighten the mood and give a small change that leads to a big effect. Decorating the house can be a fun activity to do together or to give them a reminder that you are thinking of them during the holiday season.
- Spend time listening to them.
In the passing times, you may find that the loved one is opening up more about their life. They may talk about things you have never known, or simply explain the kinds of pain they are feeling. It is important to be a perceptive listener and read any messages that they are trying to communicate. This way, you can talk to them about these subjects or serve as a liaison to any medical professionals who may be assisting in this journey. Sometimes, you may visit and only listen to them the whole time, and that is OK! You may learn more about this person than you have ever known about them.
- Deal with any regrets you may have with this person.
During this final stage, you may think back to events that caused harm in your relationship with this person. This is completely normal and is a symbol that it is time to deal with this regret. By simply explaining the situation and apologizing for any harm caused, you have confronted this regret and give the chance for the dying loved one to make amends with this event. Whatever their response is, you will have done whatever you can to address this regret.
- Additionally, be mentally ready to say, “I forgive you.”
After you deal with any regrets you may have with this person, you may find that they too open up and wish to deal with any regrets they have with you. It is important to be prepared for any hard feelings to surface and if you have the capacity to say, “I forgive you,” these feelings can be cleared out of the way to strengthen the remaining time left. Conversely, you may be hoping for an apology from this person for any harms done in the past. Unfortunately, there may be circumstances where they do not wish to open up about these experiences. However, this does not mean you shouldn’t try to forgive the person in your mind and heart. This can give you peace of mind when they pass on.
- It is never too early to say, “Goodbye.”
As the loved one approaches death, it is important to end each conversation in a way that would be acceptable being the last. You do not need to give a very emotional, heartfelt goodbye each time you leave, but make sure whatever you say gives peace of mind knowing it could be the last thing you say to them. If you know that this is the last time you speak to them, the goodbye will be even more emotional. Don’t be afraid to confront your feelings and tell them everything you want to say. It’s better to feel awkward about saying loving, emotional things to someone you may feel uncomfortable with being emotional near, rather than regretting it after this loved one is gone.
- It is never too often to say, “I love you.”
Saying, “I love you” is a commonly used phrase, but it can take on a whole new meaning to someone if you have never said it to them before, or if the circumstance adds a deeper layer of meaning. You may even be surprised at how quickly you become comfortable saying, “I love you” to this individual, and them to you!
With these tips in mind, Aspire Home Health & Hospice hopes to give you an added sense of ability to assist the wants and needs your loved one may face during their end-of-life care. If you wish to learn more about our hospice service, Aspire Hospice provides more information about our treatment and the process to admit a loved one to our services.
At Aspire Home Health and Hospice, you can rest assured that the needs you or a loved one have will be fulfilled to an exceptional standard. With an unwavering commitment towards mastering the benefits of these services, Aspire Home Health & Hospice utilizes a powerful mix of services that add increased comfort for those who embark on the journey of palliative care or hospice. Aspire Hospice lists all the available services offered with a brief overview of what these specific services entail.
Additionally, Patient Care Advocates are standing by to hear your circumstances and will guide you towards the proper care of treatment. They can be reached by calling 801-210-1684.