If you provide long-term care for an elderly person, the time may come when that person becomes seriously or terminally ill. Many people prefer to spend their final days living in their own home, rather than going into hospital or to a hospice, and this requires special considerations.
The physical aspect of in-home care
If the person you are caring for is seriously ill, it’s likely that they will experience some form of physical discomfort from time-to-time. These problems can manifest themselves in the form of breathing difficulties, depression or actual pain.
It’s extremely important that you get into the habit of asking the person regularly if they are feeling any pain or discomfort. It may be up to you to alert the person’s doctor to new pain symptoms that may appear so that adequate pain medication can be obtained for them. There may also be other physical therapies that could be used to make the person more comfortable, such as massage or gentle exercises.
It is good practice to write down any new feelings that the person experiences. Ask them to rate their pain on a scale of 0 to 10 too. Before you contact their GP, review your notes with the person to make sure that what your charge has told you is accurate, consistent, and complete.
The knowledge that someone is approaching the end of their life can cause considerable emotional and spiritual trauma. You can help someone to deal with what’s happening by making the time to talk to them each day about how they feel.
Always encourage the person to share their feelings with you and don’t try to distract them with platitudes. Unloading emotional responses to the fear and uncertainty of dying are very important and shouldn’t be brushed aside.
If the person is religious or even decides that they wish to learn more about faith and what it could mean to them in their final days, offer to contact a local priest or a counselor on the person’s behalf.
Although it may be difficult to talk about, it is very important that you discuss the arrangements that the person you’re caring for would like for their funeral and to write everything down for them. This process can actually help the person to come to terms with what’s happening and rationalise things.
It’s also a good idea to ask if they have made a will and if not, would they like you to arrange for that to happen.
It can be emotionally traumatic to provide care for someone you love who is dying and this is where a good Palliative Home Care service can really help, especially with the physical care aspect. Contact us today to find out how they could help you.