How to Enjoy Your Stay in Hospice Care
When the decision to enter hospice has been made, it can be a relief to the family members as well as the patient. Hospice care in San Francisco and elsewhere can be a welcome experience after battling a long illness, as it presents an opportunity to rest, have the highest quality of life possible, and remain comfortable. Enjoying your stay in hospice care may seem like the wrong choice of words, but there are many ways you can make the most out of your hospice care stay or that of your loved one.
Here are some ways you and your family can make the most out of the hospice experience at home.
Take Advantage of Helpful Resources
Your hospice care team will be made up of several professionals and volunteers who can help you or your loved one 24 hours a day if need be. The doctor will oversee care and provide medical treatments and guidance, while the nurses will provide care in the home setting and coordinate the team’s efforts, says the Mayo Clinic.
Home health aides provide extra support for care such as eating, dressing, and bathing. They can give pointers and tips to family members on how to do these things when the aides can’t be there. Spiritual counselors are also on hand to provide spiritual guidance for the patient and family. These counselors include priests, chaplains, etc.
Social workers offer counseling and support while referring the family to other necessary support systems such as support groups and community resources. Pharmacists offer medication oversight and can suggest the most effective symptom relief methods. Volunteers can come in as needed to provide respite care for family caregivers who just need a break for a few hours. They can also provide transportation for home-bound seniors, run errands, feed their pets, and address other practical needs.
Other professionals can be brought in as needed, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapists. And finally, bereavement counselors can step in after the patient’s death to offer the surviving family support and guidance as they navigate these emotional times.
These are all resources available to you. It’s wise to take advantage of all the help you can get.
What You Can Do
First off, use this opportunity to spend as much time as possible with your loved one. This should be a time of calm, a time of coming to terms with the final stage of life. Make your loved one’s last days as comfortable as possible, both physically and emotionally so you can ease their final journey, says Medline Plus. Here’s how you can help.
- Don’t understand what you’re seeing or what’s going on? Just ask a hospice team member. Being informed will put everyone at ease rather than being on the edge of uncertainty.
- If your loved one is open to visits from other family members or friends, welcome them in. Do it in moderation, such as bringing in just a few at a time. Keep it quiet and calm. Schedule visits for times when your loved one is the most comfortable and alert.
- Help your loved one maneuver into a comfortable position.
- Provide medicine as directed to relieve pain or treat symptoms.
- If your loved one isn’t drinking on their own, use ice chips or a sponge to wet their mouth. Apply lip balm to dry lips.
- If your loved one is too hot, place a cool, wet cloth on their forehead. If they are too cold, warm them with extra blankets. Stay away from electric blankets and pads, as these can cause burns.
- Apply lotion to dry skin.
- Create a soothing, calm environment. Keep soft lights on — nothing too bright. Play some low music that they like in the background.
- Touch them frequently and hold hands. This provides great comfort to your loved one, who may be very scared at this time.
- Talk calmly. Even if you are receiving no response, they may still hear you and take comfort from your soothing words.
- Use a journal to jot down what your loved one says. Those words may comfort you later.
- Let them sleep. They need rest.
It’s never easy to go through hospice with a loved one. But there are ways to make it a positive experience if you spin it that way. Remain upbeat and positive for them, answer their questions, be open to visits, listen to their stories, and generally just spend time near their bedside. These little moments often bring the most comfort. While the hospice care experience isn’t exactly enjoyable, it can be made into an uplifting experience that brings comfort to the family and patient.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
We have a wonderful and welcoming hospice care team here in San Francisco and elsewhere. Find out more about how we can make this next phase of your loved one’s life as comfortable and dignified as possible. Please call us at 888-978-1306.