Caring for a loved one with a terminal illness is intimidating. Most of us don’t have any experience caring for an ill person. Not to mention, the amount of medical equipment required to make your loved one’s final days at home comfortable can seem overwhelming. Adding to this immense sense of responsibility is the rapid advance of technology, which has made the variety of medical care products even more bewildering.
At the heart of it, hospice and palliative care is about enabling your loved one to live his or her last phase of life with purpose and dignity and to address issues causing physical or emotional pain. You don’t necessarily need the most cutting edge technology to do so. However, to make the transition from a hospital to at-home care as smooth as possible, you do need to have a plan that supports your loved one practically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Practical Needs For Hospice and Palliative Care
- Conduct a safety inventory of your home. When you’re setting up hospice and palliative care in your home, it’s important to make sure it’s tailored to the needs of your loved one. Remove rugs and obstacles, make sure floors have a slip-resistant finish and install grab bars in the bathtub and next to the toilet.
- Simplify the medication regimen. As the goal shifts from preventing possible medical conditions to promoting pain management and comfort, many medications can be discontinued and discarded. For the rest, use a weekly pill-minder to remember which pills need to be given when.
- Rent mobility products. You can help your loved one maintain mobility and a sense of independence with mobility products. A rolling walker, a walking cane or a wheelchair can help someone in hospice and palliative care get out of bed and participate in activities of daily living.
Rent a hospital bed. Many people in hospice and palliative care are resistant to giving up sleeping beside their lifetime partner for a hospital bed. However, an electric hospital bed, which raises and lowers, makes it safer and easier to help a loved one get in and out of bed.
Emotional Needs For Hospice and Palliative Care
- Provide your loved one with alone time, if desired. If a common area without a door ends up being the best place to put your loved one’s hospital bed, set up temporary curtains to divide the room using a spring pressure curtain rod. A little privacy can go a long way in helping your loved one maintain his or her dignity.
- Provide familiar comforts. Many patients in hospice and palliative care find it difficult to get up and down from their favorite armchair. In this case, you can add risers or foam cushions to the seat to make it easier. If a loved one is hard of hearing, help them enjoy their favorite TV program by providing earphones so they don’t disturb the rest of the house.
- Respond to all emotions with love and understanding. Your loved one is likely thinking about a number of issues related to death and dying. Understandably, he or she will experience highs and lows while in hospice. At times, your kindness may be met with anger or irritability. Remember that this is normal and that you are giving your best effort.
Spiritual Needs For Hospice and Palliative Care
- Know your loved one’s spiritual needs. If you are unsure of his or her wishes relating to religion or spirituality, ask. Questions like, “Is there anyone you would like to talk to about spiritual matters?” and “Do you have any concerns as death is approaching?” will give your loved one the opportunity to express needs you may not be aware of.
- Help your loved one maintain rituals. Attending religious services is often impossible once a patient has reached the point of hospice and palliative care. Discuss the matter with the local minister, priest, rabbi or other religious representative to see if someone can pay a visit to your home.
- Ask your loved one, “If you had one wish, what would it be?” This question may inspire him or her to conduct a life review, tie up loose ends and to laugh and cry with you and/or another family member or close friend.
We can help
At PA Healthcare, we understand that coordinating at-home hospice and palliative care can be complicated and emotional. To alleviate some of this stress, our experts can help you obtain at-home medical equipment such as hospital beds, patient lifts and wheelchairs to make the transition smooth and comfortable. We even offer home-delivery to anywhere in San Diego and Imperial Counties to give you one less thing to worry about.
Call us today. We have the at-home medical equipment you need to provide your loved one with comfort and support.