Watching your loved one go through a terminal illness can be an extremely difficult experience. In advanced stages of illness, there is often little that can be done in terms of curative measures. Palliative care that keeps them comfortable thus becomes the next best alternative.
Becoming a caregiver is a challenging task, more so, when you are not trained for it. It takes a toll on you emotionally and financially too. Whereas you may be fully committed to the cause, it is crucial that you are well-prepared for what is to come.
Here are some recommendations to consider as you provide palliative care at home.
As you endeavor to keep your loved one comfortable, there may be medical procedures you may need to perform. Some pain medication, for example, is administered intravenously. As an untrained caregiver, this may not be something you are confidently able to do.
Further, in the event that the patient is bedridden, they may need even more assistance. Personal hygiene, grooming, and similar personal affairs may be uncomfortable for you to handle. Depending on your relationship with them, they too may be unwilling to receive such care from you.
It is for such reasons that you will likely require a professional medical caregiver such as a home nurse. You could still choose to remain the primary caregiver and only have them relieve you during certain times of the day.
Acquire the Necessary Equipment
Each condition involves different needs of care. As a result, the kind of equipment required will depend on what ails your patient. However, the most common are those used to monitor certain parameters or offer support for some bodily functions.
Monitoring equipment is key in letting you know how the patient is fairing or responding to treatment if any. Take heart disease, for instance. Blood pressure is a major indicator of either recovery or the need for immediate medical attention. In such a case, you would need to have a home blood pressure monitor preferably from a reputable BP apparatus supplier.
On the other hand, functional support equipment keeps the patient alive and at ease. It includes things like oxygen or motor support. As you transition from hospital to home care, doctors will usually provide you with a list of what you will need. Make an effort to have it all set up and explained to you in detail before you begin the caregiving journey.
Engaging the Patient
Going through the rigors of treatment can be overwhelming and depressing. The disease can become the centerpiece of the patient’s life and leave no room for joy and fun activities.
Still, even in the end stages of life or recovery, there is a need to keep the patient engaged where possible.
One of the ways you can go about this is by listening and hearing the patient. It sounds repetitive except it isn’t. When things get difficult and intense, it is easy to downplay the wishes of your loved one as they may be painful to hear. However, even in their incapacitation, it is imperative that they feel and know that their agency is respected and considered.
It would equally be a great kindness to take their mind off the challenges they are facing by scheduling fun activities. They do not have to be anything extreme and will largely be determined by their condition. You could explore a few simple ideas such as:
- Putting on their favorite shows
- Painting their nails
- Playing music they enjoy
- Quiet walks
Juggling your own needs and offering convalescent care to another can get very exhausting. You could easily find yourself overstretched and having a hard time keeping up with it all.
It is advisable to have a schedule to keep track of everything that needs to get done.
Consider having a daily schedule with reminders for important tasks like administering medication. You will probably also need a version of the same for periodic events such as refilling prescriptions and doctor’s appointments. It may be easier to set it up on a device and use reminder alarms if you deem it necessary.
Remember to block off times for personal care as well. Besides sleep, make time to see your friends and other pastimes you delight in. Taking time to recharge will help you cope with your responsibilities better.
Over and above the hardship of watching someone you love suffer, there are other challenges you could face. Caregiver fatigue and guilt are some of the ugly truths of caregiving that you may not be prepared for. Nevertheless, they are real and normal.
There are days when you will probably feel tired and defeated. On others, you might resent yourself for enjoying anything in the midst of such dire times. It is during such spells that you will need psychological support to offer you comfort.
Consider joining support groups in your locality or online. Additionally, support from family and friends can not be understated. Therapy is also recommendable.
The advantages of palliative home care are numerous. It offers a chance for dying patients to make the most of what little time they have with those they hold dear. For those in treatment, it protects their compromised immune systems from exposure to infections in hospitals.
As with all major life adjustments, there will be a learning curve and difficulties. However, understanding the role ahead of time could help you navigate it with more ease. Always remember that your care makes a bigger difference than you may ever know.