We really hope you are enjoying this ‘tips’ blog series, do let us know if there are any topics that you would like us to discuss in particular. Next up in the series are some pointers on how to cope if your family member or loved one is facing palliative care.
Firstly, what is palliative care? It is caring for someone who is in the final stages of their life, whether that is months or years. For someone that has an illness which can’t be cured, palliative care ensures your loved one is as comfortable as possible. Pain management is a big part of this, alongside psychological support. This can be an extremely traumatic time for both the carer and the sufferer.
If your family member or loved one is facing palliative care, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Remember what’s best for your loved one
When someone you love is receiving end of life care, you need to remind yourself that it is in their best interest. It is not going to be easy on either you, or the person affected, but it is the right thing to do. They will require an extra level of care, which is something that you may not be able to provide.
Whether they are having palliative care from home, or a care home like Waltham, the main aim of this is to improve their quality of life. Therefore, you need to keep a close eye on your loved on to begin with, to ensure they are receiving the best possible care.
Join a support group
You are not alone when it comes to caring for someone in the latter stages of their life. There are hundreds of people across the UK are going through the same thing as you, and understand the difficulties that you are facing. Sometimes it is much better to be surrounded by people who you can discuss your experiences with. There is even a National Council dedicated to supporting those involved in palliative care.
Assess who is the best person to provide the care
As well as taking into consideration what is best for your loved one, you need to consider your own personal circumstances too. You may need to accept that your loved one needs professional care, which you just can’t provide. It is best to have this conversation with your loved one before their health deteriorates too much. They need to be aware that someone else may have to take care of them during the late stages of their illness.
Their quality of life is fundamental, and there are many palliative care specialists who can help with this.
Put your own health first
As mentioned in our previous ‘tips for caring for the elderly‘ blog post, you need to remember that your own health is just as important as that of your loved one. It isn’t a sign of weakness, putting your own health first when someone close to you is going through palliative care. It simply means that you are looking at the bigger picture, and thoroughly assessing the situation. If you are not at your very best, you will become unable to care for your loved one.
Many people who are receiving palliative care are likely to have lowered immune systems, so it is vital that you stay healthy and don’t pass any illness over to them.
Ensure any important paperwork is filled out
This is not something that you will want to hear, but it is one of those things you need to seriously think about. As soon as you find out that your loved one needs palliative care, you need to have the conversation with them about their wishes when it comes to their end-of-life care.
They may not be in a position to make any decisions later on as their illness progresses, so you need to know their views in advance. You need to ensure any legal documents are filled out in good time, as well as having that physical conversation with your loved one.
How Waltham House can help
Here at Waltham House, we understand the importance of providing the very best palliative care that we can. We will always take the time to sit down and understand the person’s wishes and preferences, and have external support from Macmillan nurses should this be required.