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Posts Tagged “End of Life Care”

Steps You Can Take Today to Ease End of Life Care Concerns

end of life careFacing a terminal condition or illness with a loved one is perhaps one of the more difficult journeys this life can offer. The end of life is likely something that rarely, if ever, you have discussed with a loved one in any depth. Facing the end of one’s life, whether it be years, months or days, can be fraught with a multitude of emotional decisions, and having a framework in place can make those conversations a bit easier. You may have never considered many of these care options, and having an open conversation may prove helpful for everyone involved.

PLAN AHEAD

Knowing what goals you and your loved one have in mind for his or her care can drive many of your decisions. Author Hank Dunn writes about the three goals in care delivery at end of life:

  • Cure: Most treatment for an illness or condition initially begins with this focus.
  • Stabilize: When the illness or condition cannot be cured, treatment is focused on stabilizing symptoms.
  • Preparing for comfortable end-of-life care: When the illness or condition cannot be cured or stabilized, the focus is on comfort care.

At different times during the care journey, these goals may be changed, and in no particular order. They may also be combined. For instance, in end stage cancer, the patient may have end-of-life care plans in place, but also be taking antibiotics to cure a pneumonia.

PREPARING FOR THE JOURNEY

These considerations may be helpful to begin the discussion:

  • Learn about the terminal illness or injury with your loved one. Speak with your loved one’s physicians and get as much information from the professionals involved in your loved one’s care. You may choose to get a second opinion in order to feel comfortable about prognosis and treatment options.
  • After learning about the options, discuss them in detail with your loved one, and any other involved family/friends. Then clearly set the goals for the health care team. Goals can change as your loved one’s health status changes, so be prepared to reassess goals frequently.
  • Learn about advance directives and put them in place if your loved one is ready. Advance directives are instructions patients leave for others when they are unable to make health care decisions. Health care professionals can help obtain information for your loved one on advance directives.
  • If your loved one’s goal is to prepare for a comfortable death, consider asking his or her physician for a hospice referral.
  • Learn about artificial hydration and nutrition. Talk with your loved one and the health care team about the potential advantages and disadvantages of the use and delivery options along with the alternatives of these care options. Your loved one can change his or her mind at any junction, but having the conversation well in advance will prepare you for the unknowns related to artificial hydration and nutrition.
  • Learn about the stages of grief. People don’t always cycle through the stages in perfect order, and steps may be skipped altogether, but understanding the stages can help explain what you and your loved one are experiencing. It can help you understand and experience patience for your loved one as well as for yourself.
  • Having a long, thoughtful conversation when your loved one is able will help you answer the question, “What would my loved one want?,” when he or she can no longer answer. Are the goals of care in line with his/her wishes for quality of life?

Probably the most important advice is to take it one day at a time. This can be a beautiful and meaningful journey, but it can also be stressful and more emotionally challenging than anything you have ever experienced. Reach out to friends and family to help ease the burden. You may also want to talk with a professional grief counselor if you are struggling with the journey. And, call on the professional Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare for in-home assistance throughout aging, including end of life care and support for family caregivers. We’re here for you any time and just a phone call away at (602) 504-1555.

When Providing Senior Care Includes Facing End of Life: Helping Your Loved One Overcome Fear

senior careWhile we know that death is an inescapable part of life, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a frightening prospect for many. So, how can you help a loved one facing the end of life while making the most of his or her final years, months or days? Below are some common fears that end of life patients experience, and some information on how to dispel them.

  • The Process of Dying and Physical Pain
    The idea that dying may bring physical pain to your loved one is a big fear. However, reassure your loved one that pain management is an available and widely used option during the end of life. Your loved one’s home care or hospice nurse can ensure that pain is managed.
  • Loss of Control
    Allow your loved one to live as close to a normal lifestyle as possible, for as long as possible. This may mean hiring in-home senior care services, to assist with everyday tasks at home, while he or she maintains some level of independence. End of life is a sacred time for most people and their families. Who a person surrounds himself or herself with, especially during end of life, is important. Make sure that if you do hire home care services for your loved one that the agency understands the patient’s needs and requests before staffing. It may be important for your loved one to meet the caregivers in advance of staffing them, to alleviate any tension or fear.
  • Isolation
    No one wants to feel alone, especially loved ones who are receiving end of life care. To avoid feelings of isolation or loneliness, make sure frequent visits from friends, family members and caregivers take place. Regularly scheduled visits are shown to increase a patient’s quality of life and improve pain management.
  • Fear of the Unknown
    Everyone wonders, “What will happen to me when I die?” For those at the end of life, this form of anxiety will need to be addressed on a multitude of levels: physical, emotional and spiritual. Involving a health care professional and the loved one’s clergy can be very important and can help provide some insight and reassurance.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when faced with the loss of a loved one. However, working with your loved one to overcome his or her fears, and promoting comfort in the final moments is one of the greatest gifts you can give your loved one.

Nightingale Homecare offers a full-range of professional in-home senior care services for patients throughout the Phoenix metro area, including compassionate care for hospice Peoria and surrounding area families trust. Contact us at 602-504-1555 to learn more about how we can help bring comfort and peace to your senior loved one.

Posted in Aging Issues, Blog on September 28th, 2016 · Comments Off on When Providing Senior Care Includes Facing End of Life: Helping Your Loved One Overcome Fear