When you begin caring for a loved one at the end of life, there are many surprises and many things you never expected to happen. Doctors and nurses often miss out on revealing the most important things that caregivers and family members need to know about their loved one’s transition into death. These are things that no one tells you about the end of life process:
It’s Okay for Your Loved One Not to Eat
As your loved one gets closer to reaching the end of their life, their appetite will begin to decrease dramatically. This may be alarming for caregivers and family members, but it’s truly nothing to worry about. Offer your loved one small servings of what appeals to them, but don’t be discouraged if they only take a few small bites or reject the food entirely.
You’ll Need to Give Your Loved One Pain Medication on a Schedule
When it becomes clear that there are no more treatment options available for someone with a terminal illness, the focus shifts to pain relief. There should be no concern for drug dependency or abuse. Instead, administer pain medication to your loved one on a schedule, so you can keep “ahead” of the pain, as opposed to waiting until your loved one is in pain before administering the medication.
If the current medication doesn’t appear to be managing the pain, discuss with your loved one’s doctor about alternative or additional medications that can be used for relief.
It’s Important to Take Care of Yourself Too
It’s easy for caregivers to focus totally on caring for their loved one while neglecting themselves, especially as the end of life draws closer. However, this can lead to burn-out, which eventually will keep you from being able to provide quality care.
Know that it’s okay to take some time out for yourself. Have another family member sit with your loved one, or work with a professional sitter. You need to recharge your batteries every once in a while.
Hospice Care Is Available to Help You
There are lots of hospice care you can choose to have your loved one a better place to stay, these establishments usually just a phone call away. They are there to help you. Don’t be afraid to call them, ask questions or even ask for help. It’s what they do.
Caring for a loved one at the end of life can be many things at once – stressful, frightening and difficult. But it’s also special. You are doing them a great service at a great personal cost. You’ll never have the opportunity again to help ease your loved one from this life into the next in the most loving, comfortable way possible, and it can be beautiful if you let it.