Caring for a terminally ill loved one is a labor of love. Many people believe that being the caregiver for someone who is dying is harder than being the person who is sick. If you love someone and will be in charge of caring for them until their passing, read on for things to consider.
Handling Paperwork and Making Plans
There’s nothing easy about having a terminally ill family member or partner. As you grapple with the emotional struggles that come with a devastating diagnosis, there’s often paperwork to think about, too. From medical bills to a long term financial plan, it will be important to make time to have honest conversations with your loved one about their wishes.
Some people find that handling life insurance, looking into cash values and death benefits, and even working with hospital billing departments can be easier than facing the emotions that come with a terminal diagnosis early in. While it’ll be important to follow up on beneficiary designations and your loved one’s life insurance policy and premiums, how you decide to tackle the paperwork involved with a terminal diagnosis is up to you and your loved one.
Do what you can to support your family member or partner through the paperwork that comes with life insurance, a last will and testament, and more, but also make time for creating memories and laughing together. Finding a balance will make a big difference for you both.
Helping Comfort a Loved One
Comfort is important for anyone. For someone who’s sick and in pain, it can be particularly important that they can rest in a comfortable environment. A person with a terminal diagnosis will need their rest, so the right pillow or memory foam mattress will matter. Start by looking at Stearns and Foster mattresses, and speak to your loved one’s doctor about ordering a hospital bed with an adjustable base if your family member will be cared for at home. Having the right equipment now will give you peace of mind as your loved one’s symptoms get worse.
Asking for Help for You
Obviously, the average person doesn’t have experience in patient care, taking vital signs, and isn’t an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). For this reason, you may find yourself in the position of needing LPN skills to take care of your loved one. While taking a class and earning those qualifications is something you could consider, it might be easier to reach out and ask for help.
Consider talking to a hospital or clinic social worker and asking about palliative care options, Hospice, and other options for the terminally ill. Something as simple as having an LPN come to the house every morning to take vital signs, help with daily care, and more could make a big difference in overall patient care and the quality of your time with your loved one. A practical nurse who knows you and your loved one well could also be a great emotional support and resource for you during this challenging time.
Self-care for Caregivers
Being a caregiver to someone with a terminal diagnosis can be one of the most stressful things anyone can do. It’s important that you get help for yourself during this time. While it may seem difficult to make time for yourself right now, doing so will make you more patient and able to focus on your loved one’s needs.
Start by reaching out to an online or in-person therapeutic support group for caregivers. By meeting other people in the same situation, you’ll be able to swap tips and tricks for getting a good night’s sleep, locating resources, and more. Others in the same situation will know of resources for extra care at home, where to get help financially, and will have a great chance at understanding how you’re feeling. Not only will a support group help you to feel less alone, but you’ll have a safe place to vent your frustrations about the difficult situation you’re in without putting that on the sick person you love.
The Grieving Process
Grief is never easy, and it’s different for everyone. While there are stages of grief that most people go through, how you experience grief will be different from how other people do. Many people don’t know that the grieving process begins with receiving a terminal diagnosis. You and the sick person you love are already in the first stages of the grief process. If you’re struggling, use that support group or consider getting a therapist who can work with you one-on-one to help you process your grief.
Unfortunately, there’s no step-by-step guide on how to care for a terminally ill person you love. By doing what you can to make sure their affairs are in order, being a good listener, asking for help, seeing to their physical comfort, getting yourself support, and understanding the phases of grief, you’ll be in a better position to help the person you love through this transition. Where possible, do what you can to laugh together, make memories, take pictures, and enjoy your time together. You’ll thank yourself for it in the future.