TIPS FOR FAMILY CAREGIVERS
- Have a conversation about the dying person’s wishes before the individual gets to the end stage of life.
- Trying to meet all the needs of your loved one during the dying process is almost impossible. Get comfortable with doing the best you can — there is no perfect.
- Be realistic about your own capacity to care. Are you going to be able to change adult briefs, give oxygen or administer medications topically, orally or anally?
- Think about ways to provide dignity. One caregiver found a decorative dividing screen to put around her mother’s hospital bed in the living room, to provide both privacy and beauty.
- As a caregiver, you must remember to take care of yourself. When you need to, it’s ok to step out of the room and walk around the block.
- Eat properly.
- Get enough rest.
- Exercise regularly.
- You may find it helpful to read books and websites about caregiving, join a caregiver support group, or seek counseling from your hospice agency.
- If family, friends or neighbors offer to cook, clean, or shop, accept their offers; helping will likely be as gratifying to them as it is beneficial to you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for support from neighbors and friends, who are often eager to help if they know what is needed. Being a caregiver to a dying loved one is overwhelming on every level.
- When you need a break, take it. You can try early on to find others willing to step into the caregiver role periodically so you can have some down time. The hospice should be able to provide an adult volunteer who can visit for an hour or two each week so you can take care of other chores or just relax.