Hospice Care: What To Expect For A Terminally Ill Loved One


Hospice care can be a relief for terminally ill individuals and their families, but there are so many things to consider when you’re getting started. Making sure your loved one is well taken care of is a priority, but you also have to think about keeping them comfortable and happy during their stay, as well as how to pay for the process. For seniors, Medicare covers hospice care, but there are co-payments for prescriptions and respite care. Talking to your loved one about their final wishes is also crucial, but this can be hard for both of you, and the thought of initiating such a conversation when they’re very ill can be difficult.

Creating a plan for your loved one will help to ease both your minds, so think about the best way to start a conversation about their needs and how you can help. Talking about what your loved one wants as far as their final wishes will allow you to plan for the cost while ensuring that they’ll feel as though they are being listened to, so don’t be afraid to bring up the difficult topics.

Read on for some tips on how to get started when your loved one needs hospice care.

Have a conversation about final wishes

Understanding what your loved one wants as far as final arrangements is important and necessary. Not only will it help give them peace of mind, it will allow you to plan for a very difficult time and prepare both financially and emotionally. Start a conversation about whether your loved one has a will and find out how they want to handle their end-of-life arrangements, including the funeral and/or memorial. Since hospice care can be expensive and health insurance doesn’t always cover the cost, you’ll also need to find out whether your loved one has made arrangements for their care in the long-term.

Keep your loved one comfortable

When someone you care about is very sick, it can be extremely difficult to watch them suffer. The pain and discomfort of a terminal illness is very taxing on the body, so it’s crucial to help your loved one find a bit of comfort where they can. Soft blankets, photos of family and friends, and familiar items from home will go a long way toward helping them feel more relaxed and will boost both their mood and their mental health.

Get to know all you can about the doctors

Hospice staff are often well-trained, caring individuals who do all they can to help their patients stay comfortable, but it may help you to get to know the people who are taking care of your loved one. Ask about their training and make an effort to find out all you can about their daily routine; this will help you feel connected and involved in your loved one’s care.

Help your loved one find peace

Mental and emotional comfort is just as important as the physical. Talk to your loved one about their spiritual needs while they’re in hospice care, as this can help them come to terms with their illness in a hopeful way and ease their own grief or sadness. Encourage them to talk about their feelings, either with you or with a counselor or therapist who can help them process the overwhelming feelings that come with being in hospice care.

Hospice care can provide so much for a terminally ill individual, but it’s important to be prepared as much as possible for your loved one’s stay. Knowing what to expect will help you manage the cost, emotional burden, and grief that accompanies a very difficult time.

Author

Ms. Duncan has been a caregiver to her 85-year-old mother for quite some time, and enjoys sharing caregiving tips she has gleaned from her own experience.  You can contact June Duncan via email at june@riseupforcaregivers.org

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