Being diagnosed with a terminal illness is a traumatic experience for both patients and their families. If you have a loved one receiving end-of-life care, it can be challenging to provide the comfort and support he needs to feel more at peace.
After checking with the health care provider, it’s best to learn ways in which you can provide the physical, mental, and spiritual support your loved one needs. Here are a few recommendations to help you through this trying time:
Choose What You Say Carefully
One of the hardest parts of supporting a loved one during the end-of-life stages is knowing what to say. Experts advise against saying things that involve convincing your family member or friend that he is going to get well. This can be hurtful because he knows that the statement, while said with good intentions, isn’t true. Instead, communicate through simple physical contact like holding his hand. The National Institutes on Aging explained that this can be very soothing for your loved one and help him feel connected to you.
Sometimes all it takes is a single touch to provide loved ones with the comfort and support they need.
Keep Personal Preferences in Mind
There’s no single best practice for providing end-of-life support. Some strategies that comfort one person may make another anxious and withdrawn. For example, the Hospice Patients Alliance pointed out that if your loved one is a social extrovert who enjoys being surrounded by friends and family when he is healthy, having multiple people visit at once may make him feel most at ease and happy. However, if he is on the quieter side and likes to spend time alone or with one or two people, a large group will likely have the opposite effect, causing him to feel overwhelmed. Similarly, play his favorite songs or a movie he loves at a low volume to provide an extra element of comfort.
Don’t Force the Topic of Spirituality
Your loved one may want to talk about his religious beliefs, but it’s important not to force the subject unless it comes up. Let him express his ideas and feelings freely. He may need to thank or forgive a family member or friend to feel more at ease. It may also be helpful to invite a spiritual leader to answer any questions your loved one has, as it’s common for hospice patients to find solace in faith. Talking about the importance of your relationship and sharing fond memories can also give him peace.
According to the World Health Organizations, palliative care is one form of treatment for terminally ill patients that focuses on the spiritual aspect of care, along with the physical and psychosocial factors that patients and their families often have to address. This multidisciplinary approach to care may be something you and your loved one want to look into.
Find Out Your Loved One’s End-of-Life Wishes
It’s never an easy subject to bring up, but understanding what your loved one wants in terms of how he prefers to be laid to rest is essential to properly honoring him when the time comes. Because hospice patients understand their situation, they are more likely to want to discuss these topics to ensure their end-of-life decisions don’t fall to the wayside and their family and precious belongings are in good hands. For example, funeral planning is important, as they may have specific ideas regarding the ceremony they want or prefer a burial alternative that adheres to their spiritual beliefs. Ask your loved one about these essential decisions so you’re able to provide the proper support now and after he passes.
The support and care of loved ones is crucial for people who are in hospice. By visiting with your loved one, honoring his wishes and planning for end-of-life care, you can help make this time as comfortable as possible.