Caring for an elderly loved one at the end stage of their life can be a very challenging and emotional task for many family caregivers so it is important to know what to expect before taking on the task. In this article we would like to offer some tips on how to help make the process easier for both family caregivers and their loved ones.
The first thing that family caregivers need to do is decide when their loved one’s end of life care should begin. Every person is different so there is no set time or age that family caregivers can go by when making the decision. Family caregivers should consider their loved one’s health and medical conditions and talk with their loved one’s doctors before making any decisions. Seniors with a life-limiting disease often move towards end of life care when their disease has progressed significantly and is affecting their quality of life or they choose to stop receiving treatment for their disease. Some seniors with illnesses will decide to seek end of life care after being admitted to the hospital multiple times with the same symptoms that return or get worse. Doctors will be able to help family caregivers with their decision by giving them an idea of what they can expect as their loved one’s symptoms progress.
After family caregivers have decided that it is time to start end of life care for their loved one they should make sure that they have the proper help. Caring for a loved one at the end of their life is not an easy task and it is definitely not a one person job. Many family caregivers choose to put their loved ones in an assisted living home at this stage of their life, but many seniors would prefer to be in their own home so that is something for family caregivers to keep in mind. Family caregivers that decide to care for their loved one at home should make sure that they have help from family members as well as medical professionals. Many seniors begin to lose the ability to take care of themselves once they are in the final stage of their life and feel more comfortable and less embarrassed having a homecare service or hospice team assist them rather than family members. Family caregivers should keep this in mind so that they can make their loved one as comfortable and happy as possible during this time.
During the early stages of an elderly loved one’s end stage of life it is important for family caregivers to help them take care of personal and legal matters while they are still able to. Family caregivers should assist their loved ones in any final decisions about their will and power of attorney if necessary and make sure that all family issues are resolved. It is very common for people with strained relationships to try to make amends when they are in the end stage of their life, so family caregivers should do everything they can to assist their loved one in this process.
The last thing for family caregivers to do is to make sure that they know the common symptoms that people experience near the end of their life so that they can effectively care for their loved one. Many seniors will stop eating and drinking, but it is important to keep their mouth moist so that they will be comfortable. Family caregivers can do this by giving their loved one ice chips or applying lip balm to their lips regularly. Seniors might also begin to lose their ability to speak and become unresponsive, but family caregivers should still treat them as if they can hear and talk to them during this time. Some seniors will begin to have difficulty breathing as well, so family caregivers should watch for this symptom and turn their loved one on their side and place pillows beneath their head to assist them. Seniors might also begin to become agitated or confused, and if this happens it is important for family caregivers to speak quietly and calmly to their loved ones so that they will calm down. Another very common symptom at this stage of life is incontinence. Many seniors will experience this symptom which is why it can be very helpful to have a homecare services or a hospice team available to provide assistance.
Following these tips will help make the process of caring for an elderly loved one at the end stage of their life much easier, but family caregivers should always make sure that they ask for help when they need it. Caring for a loved one at the end of their life can be difficult physically and emotionally, family caregivers need to remember to take care of themselves as well so that they are able to provide the best possible care for their loved ones in this difficult time.
For additional related posts and articles in our home care services blog:
- Types of Grief Personalities
- Losing a Loved One: Dealing with Grief
- Coping with Loneliness: Tips for Seniors