Tag Archives: EndofLife

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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Having The Talk: How To Make End Of Life Wishes Easier


The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Richard and I during one of our many talks about what he wanted. This conversation centered around his medication.

Having “The Talk” does not have to be hard or difficult, yet the talk does have to happen at some point in our lives.   I’m not referring to the birds and the bees talk our parents have with us when we are adolescents. “The Talk” I am referring to is the talk we have with our loved ones about end-of-life wishes.

As a caregiver, one of our most important roles, if not the most important one of them all, is to be an  advocate. How can one advocate if you do not know the wishes or desires of the person in your care?  Richard and I always had the ability to talk openly about his wishes. In fact, our end-of-life conversation happened spontaneously; by the end of the conversation, our tears of love and joy were comforted by the knowledge that I knew exactly what he wanted.  “I will tell you when I am ready for hospice” he bellowed…Yes you did!

the talk

Click on the image to purchase Jack’s book

Recently I had the opportunity to visit with Jack Tatar who has written a book called “Having the Talk.”  “Having the Talk” focuses on ways to begin a family discussion earlier rather than later, about planning for the later life issues of a retired or retiring parent. Jack’s research demonstrated to him people have “the Talk”, but they have it too late, either when there’s little that can be changed, or after expectations have been set by siblings about “who gets what.” When this happens, families are torn apart, and loved ones who played together and protected each other throughout their entire lives now find themselves not talking to each other, usually all the way to their deathbeds.

Here is our recent episode of “Healing Ties” featuring Jack Tatar as we discuss how to have those difficult end-of-life conversation.  

While I understand not everyone is going to be able to have the same experience of having “The Talk” like Richard and I did, let me share a few suggestions on how you might approach this delicate conversation:

  • Always use open-ended question
  • Don’t force the conversation, if there is strong resistance, back off and revisit it at another time
  • Express the importance of  the need for you to be comforted, knowing that by following their wishes, makes it easier on you
  • Enlist the help of an objective third-party
  • Use examples of family and friends.
  • Learn about The Five Wishes 

I believe there are two common aspects to caregiving that everyone experiences, there is a beginning and there is an end, and in most cases, we are not prepared for either one of these life changing events!  It is difficult to plan for the unexpected, but having a plan in place does help temper the confusion when an emergency happens.

Have the talk…you will be glad that you did!

 

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Christopher MacLellan, MA is a Certified Senior Advisor, Certified Caregiving Consultant, the author of “What’s The Deal with Caregiving?” and the host of “Healing Ties™” podcast.

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