This is a guest post by Simon Fletcher.
Caring for a dying loved one is a physically and emotionally draining experience that can seriously impact the physical and mental well-being of the carer. It is essential for anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves in this position that they welcome on-board as much help and advice as possible when having to get through this incredibly difficult period.
Aside from the fact that the carer is faced with the knowledge that they are going to lose a loved one, this process of caring will probably be the most difficult experience the carer has ever had face. It is important that from the outset the carer fully understands the implications of the role they have been brave enough to take on. This is not merely an important job, but rather the one and only job the carer will have for as long as it lasts. Everything else in life takes on secondary importance and the carer must learn to treat any variations from the caring routine as a respite, recreation, or rest.
In order to take off a small part of the pressure involved, the carer should register with a hospice. A hospice specialises in care of the terminally ill and they will be able to offer much needed advice and support when things become a little overwhelming. The carer should never be afraid to ask questions of the professionals who work for the hospice. There is no such thing as a stupid question and it is always better to ask rather than be left unsure.
One key thing to remember is that whilst the loved one is dying, it is wrong to automatically assume that they are suddenly incapable of rational thought and of making their own decisions. Even though the loved one may be physically weak and frail this does not mean that their mental condition is equally weak. The carer must consult with the loved one whenever this is possible. It is also very important to listen to the loved one when they feel the need to talk about the situation. These conversations may be extremely difficult, but simply listening to their ideas and fears will be of massive help to them. As this is an incredibly difficult time for all involved, try to add some humour to the situation whenever possible. It may seem misplaced at such a time but humour really is a great coping mechanism.
It is also advisable to look into palliative care at this time. The goal of this type of treatment is simply to improve quality of life, by increasing comfort, promoting dignity, and providing a support system to both the loved one and the carer. This kind of care neither prolongs nor hastens the dying process. Rather it actively works to make this final, trying time one that can be accepted by all concerned as something normal, and which celebrates life even when its end is so close.
Author Bio: This is a guest post by Simon Fletcher on behalf of Forest Healthcare – a specialist provider of residential, nursing and dementia care facilities in the UK. To find out more follow them on Twitter.
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