Dying. It’s not something we like to think about, but we’ll all be confronted by the end of life at some time. Caring for a person during their final stage of life is difficult – emotionally and physically. You are on a roller coaster of emotions then there is the physically draining part of visiting or caring for a close family member or friend.
Palliative care is designed to improve the quality of life for people in the final stage of life. Some people spend the last weeks at home while others receive full-time palliative care in a hospital, nursing home or palliative care centre. You may be providing support by visiting a patient regularly or taking on the role of full-time carer of a parent or partner at home. Both are stressful and difficult to cope at times. As well as providing for their needs, you may begin the grieving process knowing time with your loved one is limited.
Some people want to plan their end of life in detail while for some making plans is too upsetting. It’s important to let your patient decide what suits them. You can bring up the topic by asking if they would like any assistance with putting in place their final wishes. Everyone has a different perspective about death, and you may find it hard to understand why someone doesn’t want to tell you how they would like their funeral to proceed. Whatever their decision, try to respect them.
If they want to make funeral arrangements, try to be as supportive as possible. It may be difficult for you to think of the inevitable but you will be glad you supported them. They may want to make funeral arrangements so that some of the decisions and payment carried out before they pass away to take the pressure off you and other family members. You could involve your patient in more enjoyable tasks like looking through photo albums and talking about happier times or playing music they might enjoy.
Some people may want to get their affairs in order while others don’t. Having a valid Will makes a difference in winding up of their Estate. Not everyone is mentally fit to write a Will or make changes to their Will in their final stage of life. You may need to help with an appointment with someone who can prepare their Will and Enduring Power of Attorney, if required.
Caring for Yourself
Remember you can’t provide care for anyone if you aren’t well yourself. These weeks or months will be some of the most stressful times of your life. Try to eat a nutritious diet and give yourself time away from the patient to get some exercise, catch up with friends and a reprieve from the stress. If you find yourself feeling anxious or depressed, see your GP for professional counselling or medication. Ask family members or professionals for assistance if you are struggling with some of the tasks required of you. Start by contacting Silver Chain or your local council to ask for help.
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