There may come a time when a family member or close friend develops a serious, life-limiting illness or condition and enters hospice care. Hospice is a special kind of care that focuses on quality of life, addressing patients’ physical, spiritual and emotional needs so they live as fully and comfortably as possible.
If your loved one has recently entered hospice care, you might wonder what you can do to best support them. You will likely also have your own emotions to deal with and that can sometimes make it difficult to focus on what the patient needs. Here are a few tips for ensuring you and your loved one are supported throughout the hospice journey.
Provide emotional support
You can provide comfort for your loved one by simply listening to their concerns and being present. Speak calmly and be reassuring whenever possible. Telling your loved one why you value your relationship and reminding them of how their legacy will continue through the memories you have shared can also help provide comfort, both for you and them. Physical acts, such as holding hands or giving a gentle massage, can also be soothing for patients during a highly emotional time.
Create a comforting environment
Creating a calming environment with soft music and low lighting has been demonstrated to improve mood, alleviate stress and reduce pain for hospice patients. For many, listening to music can evoke memories and allow them to reminiscence on special moments with friends and family. Try to minimize distracting noises from televisions and cellphones to help your loved one feel as relaxed as possible.
Arrange virtual or in-person visits
Don’t avoid a friend or loved one in hospice. Patients want and need to feel connected to family and friends. Always check first for the best time to visit and ask if you can bring anything. Sit down with your loved one to talk about how they’re feeling that day or sit in peaceful silence if they prefer. Depending on their level of illness and stamina, you may want to limit your visit or offer to take them on an outing if they’re up for it.
If in-person visits aren’t an option, deliver your loved one’s favorite meal and coordinate a family dinner via Zoom. Consider sending old photos so they can enjoy reflecting on meaningful times with loved ones, even if they can’t physically be together.
Take care of yourself
It can be difficult to cope with the reality that a loved one is nearing the end of life. Many people experience anticipatory grief and begin mourning the loss of their loved one before they’re gone. Whether it’s grabbing dinner with a friend, taking a warm bath or squeezing in a walk, give yourself time to participate in your favorite activities to help you feel better. Caring for someone in hospice can be challenging but taking steps to unwind and find joyful moments enables patients and caregivers to make the most of the time they have left.
If you or a loved one are considering hospice care, we are here to help. To learn more about hospice services at Charter, visit our website or call (909) 644-4965.