It’s your choice to hire the right Hospice company for your loved one. But do you have enough family to help with the care when the hospice company isn’t there? Who is going comfort them, feed them, bring them water, bathe and groom them, change the linens and do the laundry…? Nobody prepares for this and the burden can be overwhelming.
I ran into my old friend Mark at the grocery store last year. I was delighted to see him. He looked great, but when I asked him how he was doing, he told me: “I don’t want you to hear this through the grapevine, but I’ve been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.”
That began a 10-month ordeal for his wife, as she was the only one left in the home to be his caregiver. When the doctors came to her in the hospital, after months of chemotherapy and Palliative Care, they explained to her that it was time to consider hospice care at home. They were given three choices of local hospice companies to choose from and selected a great company. Mark was back home on Comfort Care, his pain was managed by the Hospice Care Nurse who only came a few hours a week, but his wife had even more to do than before because now Mark couldn’t even get out of bed. She had to feed him, bathe him, keep his linens clean, and stay near his side to give aid and comfort to the man she had loved and been married to for decades. She rapidly grew exhausted. I convinced her to ask for help, to reach out to family and friends, and even hire an in-home care agency to give respite to her when she needed a break.
No one is prepared to go through this. It always comes as a shock and creates a tremendous amount of stress on entire families. Here are 6 quick guidelines to help you cope when faced with the challenges of Hospice Care:
Don’t Feel Guilty
It is very common for family members to blame themselves for the pain they see their loved one going through. But we are all human. We can’t control sickness or death or the timing of either. Make a list for yourself of the things you can do to actually make a difference, and another of the things you cannot control. Those in the latter column, let go of, give them to God, or do whatever you have to do to get them to stop bothering you. Focus on the few things you can actually do to improve your patient’s quality of life.
Talk to Trusted Friends or Even a Professional Counselor
Part of the service your Hospice Company should provide is spiritual and emotional counseling for you and your family. These are usually staff members who are passionate about helping grieving families get through the end of life process before and after.
Take care of Yourself
This is most often neglected, and usually piggy backs of the guilt and anxiety family caregivers feel. If you’re not strong, you’re not going to be much help to the dying family member who really needs you during this time. Don’t forget to eat right, drink water, get out for a walk, and sleep as best you can. Stress is a killer and takes your focus away from self-care. You have to fight to keep yourself healthy.
You Hospice company should also have an advice line available to you. And if you have brought in caregivers from an In-home care agency, their supervising staff should also be available to advise you. In that regard it’s best to go with a Nurse Supervised in-home care agency.
This process is time limited and will come to an end. And don’t be afraid to grieve even before the end. Sadness and grief are healthy emotions, in that they help you get through the process. Stuffing your emotions can numb you or come out in other destructive ways. There are appropriate times and places to let out the pain, and this is an essential part of coping and healing.
Ask for Help
Reach out to friends and family. No one should have to go through this alone. If you need, there are agencies that specialize in Hospice Home Care. Use our guide: “20 Questions for Evaluating In-Home Care Options” to help you hire the right caregiver.