When you have a loved one dealing with a life-limiting illness, understanding end-of-life needs may be confusing. At this time your loved one may need and desire your time and attention more than ever.While a hospice program may offer the comfort and care needed, it is important for the family to maintain a role in the process. The help and insights you can offer make a positive impact on the care of your loved one.
The key to success in a hospice care program is open communication between the patient, family, and hospice team. Establish a strong contact system with your hospice provider to discuss expectations and specific needs of your loved one. This allows the hospice team to provide adequate care services for your loved one. As time progresses, your loved one may not be able to communicate their needs – this is when you can be a voice or advocate for them. Therefore, it is crucial to be familiar with expectations, needs, and changes in your loved one's health.
Discussing Final Wishes and Preparations
For some this is a challenging topic as they may not have considered end-of-life options. Others may have defined end-of-life wishes. It is vital this conversation takes place and beneficial to have it earlier rather than later, in case the patient becomes too sick to express their desires. Developing an advance directive, a legal document that spells out your end-of-life decisions, can provide comfort and guidance to families during this difficult time.
See upcoming Advance Directive My Wishes Workshop Classes
The hospice team will create a guide for you to be able to take quality care of your loved one when a hospice nurse is not present in the home. The hospice nurse will offer detailed instructions so be certain to ask any questions to help you better understand the type of care needed. Hospice should educate you on specific care needed, what to do in an emergency situation, and any other advice they may have for your loved one.
Understand Patient Cues
As the illness progresses, your loved one may have difficulty communicating. It is important that you learn how to recognize nonverbal cues offered by your loved one when they are in pain, hungry, thirsty, and so on. Once you learn the cues, share that knowledge with the hospice team so they may also recognize these cues as well.
As the final stages of life approach, there will be ups and downs for the family and hospice team. With these four essential keys to care for a loved one in a hospice program you should understand the importance of staying involved. Express your love and care for your loved one and make their journey as comfortable as possible.
Learn more about Doylestown Health's Hospice Patient and Family Resources
About Doylestown Health Hospice
When a patient's life expectancy is six months or less, comfort care options may be needed. Doylestown Health Hospice provides expert pain management, symptom-control techniques, caregiver relief, psychosocial and spiritual support, bereavement support, medical therapies and palliative care. Our compassionate approach to end-of-life care includes physician services, registered nurses, a chaplain, a social worker, home health aides, volunteers, and bereavement counselors who work together to help the entire family during these very difficult times.