Family Caregiver Tips for End-of-Life Hardship

woman taking care of elderly mother

When someone you love is coming to the end of their journey, it’s never an easy time. Rather than spend their last days in a hospital surrounded by beeping monitors and unfamiliar faces, many choose to live out their time at home. While this is certainly a more comforting and usually a better experience for the dying and their family or friends, it can be difficult to navigate for caregivers. Here are a few tips to help you get through and make the most of the time you have left.

Be There

This can’t be stressed enough. Even if you find it difficult to watch your loved one slowly fade away, make a genuine effort to spend time together before the end. You will never get another chance here on Earth and if you chicken out, you’ll likely regret it later.

It’s okay if you don’t know what to say to the dying person. Sometimes just a warm hand to hold and the knowledge that someone cares is enough. If you’re not sure what to say, don’t be afraid to admit it.

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Death

It’s common for family members to refuse to discuss death as if to stay silent would ward off the inevitable. Death will come whether you discuss it or not. And keeping quiet on the subject may mean you’ll have no idea what your loved one wanted done afterward.

It’s best to approach the subject gently and then take your cues from the dying person. If they want to plan out their whole memorial service, do your best to accommodate that. And show you’re serious by taking notes you can refer to later. If, on the other hand, they don’t want to talk about it, perhaps instead discuss things like favorite hymns, songs, or scriptures in a different context. This will still give you ideas you can pull from when making arrangements, without stressing your loved one unnecessarily.

Put Personal Squabbles Aside

It’s not uncommon for family members to argue about all sorts of things whenever they’re together. But over a loved one’s death bed is not the time or place. Even if you think they’re unconscious or unaware, keep arguments and stress out of hearing or visual range. If you see an argument brewing, it may be best to politely ask the involved parties to leave the room.

Additionally, this is not the time to air grievances about the will, or to bring up past wrongs. If those things were really important, they should have been dealt with when the individual was in better health. Try to maintain a peaceful, stress-free atmosphere to help ease your loved one’s final days.

Don’t Neglect Medical Care

At the end, many people may want to refuse medical care for fear they’ll wind up hospitalized. Also, a dying person may not be able to easily go to a traditional doctor’s office or clinic. But medical care, especially pain management and the like, can make the difference between an easy passing and an incredibly stressful one.

person receiving hospice care

Even if you have a home health aide or hospice care nurses coming to your home, when they’re not available you can still get high-quality, advanced care delivered from DispatchHealth. Their team of experienced medical staff is caring, compassionate and capable. They’re ER-trained and can handle anything that could be done at an urgent care clinic, from the comfort of home. They can administer IV fluids, treat sores and help answer any medical questions you may have. And after the visit, they’ll follow up with the patient’s hospice or primary care physician.

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About the Author
DispatchHealth Staff The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.