How to Enjoy The Holiday Season Even During End of Life Care
The holidays are here and you and your loved one can still enjoy the festivities of the season, even during end-of-life care in Santa Clara and elsewhere. In fact, it’s important even at this juncture to continue holiday traditions and keep things as normal as possible. Take the time to visit with your aging parents or other loved ones to celebrate the upcoming season and ease the transition into end-of-life care.
Here are some tips to bring them comfort.
Talk About the Good Old Days
Reminiscing is a great way to pass the time and bring joy to your loved one’s face. Gather some photo albums, videos, journals, and books, then go through them all to see what memories they spark. Sadly, the challenges that come with hospice care often cast a pall over a much happier past. Particularly when it comes to Alzheimer’s Disease, it’s common to feel like you’re losing your loved one slowly, one bit every day. That’s where reminiscence therapy comes in. Use this therapy to:
- Recall events from the past through the use of the senses, such as introducing objects your loved one can hold, see, smell, hear and taste. In fact, reminiscence therapy connects them with long-ago memories that ensure they stay connected to familiar memories, especially when elders have been isolated from their identities due to failing memories, says Assisted Living Today.
- Increase the ability to communicate
- Get distracted from everyday challenges
- Increase self-confidence
- Alleviate depression
- Preserve family stories for the enjoyment of future generations
One good way to preserve family memories is to jot down memories while you can within a journal. Also, keep a log of your loved one’s medical history so you have it at the ready. You may need it a lot as they progress through end-of-life care.
Aside from the pain associated with your loved one’s condition, it’s important to manage smaller sources of discomfort, such as skin irritation. Facial dryness, more so around the lips and eyes, is of particular concern. Aging makes our skin naturally get drier and more fragile. If your loved one is bed-bound, they aren’t able to as easily apply moisturizer or lip balm as needed, so if you can help with this task, so much the better. Use only alcohol-free lotion to moisturize the dry skin and use lip balm to keep chapping at bay, says the National Institute on Aging. Another good idea is to put a cool, damp cloth on their eyes and let them suck on some ice chips if they have dry mouth.
Simply Spend Time Together
There’s no better season to spend time with cherished loved ones than the holidays. The fact that your aging parent is in hospice shouldn’t detract from the ability to cherish lasting memories. Of course, everyone has different preferences and comfort levels, so be sure to ask your loved one how they want to celebrate the holidays. Too many distractions and too many people at once can be overwhelming and may have the opposite effect that you are going for. Minimize the noise, distraction, and gathering size to ensure your loved one is happy and comfortable.
Be prepared to deal with their emotions. They know it may be their last holiday with their family and friends and may express sadness. Others may feel appreciation that they have more time with their loved ones and want to squeeze in meaningful moments wherever they can. One unobtrusive way to celebrate with someone in end-of-life care is to listen to Christmas carols or watch their favorite holiday classics on TV. Keep the decorations to a minimum and don’t put out decor that could be dangerous or a tripping hazard.
While you may be sad that your loved one is possibly facing their last holiday season, use this time to express thanks for the time you do have with them and be grateful for all the memories you have all made over the years. Don’t assume your loved one knows how much you appreciate them. Take the time to actually let them know how you feel. All too often, family members go an entire lifetime without expressing their thanks for having their loved one in their life. Gratitude is a powerful thing, and it’s so much more than just saying thank you.
It’s actually more of a mindset that can shift the focus from the negative to the positive through affirmation and thanks. Yes, give thanks to your loved one going through end-of-life care, but while you’re at it, go around the room and let all your other family members and friends know too. Keep the positivity vibe going as you embrace the festivities of the season. And don’t forget about your caregiving professionals and volunteers who have been there all along to relieve you of your burden. Remember: they have families too who want to celebrate the holiday with them, and they are making a choice to be there for your aging parent.
As you go through the holiday season, remember to focus on the joy that comes with spending special time with your loved one.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Need extra caregiving help during the holidays? It’s a busy time of year and as a family caregiver, you’re busy with party prep and end-of-year activities and need a break. Contact us at 888-978-1306 to learn how we can help this holiday season.