When your loved one is diagnosed with a chronic disease, you feel a surge of emotions, and it is pretty much okay to feel that way. But some conditions are stubborn, and they take more than just your life to go away. You take care of them, wishing they will recover soon.
When doctors declare that the condition is terminal, time freezes, literally, at first, it isn’t easy to absorb the fact. You might cry or even swing into action, but you can not deny the truth. You must have promised your loved one a curative treatment and complete recovery.
You might even have made plans after they regain their health. However, nothing can change the reality.
It is challenging and heartbreaking to talk about terminal illness with your loved one. But once the treatment stops and palliative care begins, there is a lot you can do to support them during their tough times.
Mainly they demand emotional support throughout the journey till their life ends. The health care system has diversified a lot with time, and organizations now rely on well-trained health care leaders to sustain the inherent challenges of dealing with terminal patients.
So if you wish to integrate that leadership and competency development, registering for an online mhl degree is a good decision because it focuses on devising ways of delivering quality care to patients.
Taking care of someone with a terminal illness is a unique challenge. Hence, it requires special care, and to help you out with the situation; following are some tips to make these tough days comfortable and memorable:
1. Prepare before time:
Palliative treatment is a bit complex, and it requires the caretakers to prepare themselves as early as possible. The caretaker should have a detailed discussion with the doctor about managing the patient and adding comfort to the patient’s life.
Also, inform the patient about switching from curative treatment to palliative care as soon as possible. Although it is challenging to have such discussions with your loved ones, telling them before time is for their good.
Next, its family’s decision, whether they want to opt for hospice care centers or would continue palliative care at home. Health professionals have to explain to the family members why they are shifting to palliative care.
2. Patient’s safety at home:
As the journey of palliative care begins, you will see your loved one getting weaker and sleepy. The process continues and becomes more evident with time. It makes caretaking a little more complex and requires more intense work.
As a caregiver, you have to ensure that they have enough space to walk around. To create more space, you need to rearrange your furniture. Furthermore, to avoid falls or accidents, you can arrange walkers or wheelchairs or a bedside commode for their safety.
Such durable medical equipment will help your loved one move around the house carefree and without any assistance.
The terminally ill patient spends most of their time in bed, the risk of developing pressure sores increases. These pressure sores are also known as decubitus ulcers. The etiology is due to decreased blood supply to an area because of constant pressure.
And when the person slides up or down, the condition worsens due to friction. Hence, it is essential to change the position of your loved one after every two hours. Keep a regular check on the patient to ensure they don’t have any redness or feel pain, especially in the lower back area.
You can also gently massage the area for better stimulation of blood flow. If your loved ones use diapers, ensure that the skin is clean and dry without rashes.
3. Loss of appetite and thirst:
You might observe your loved one’s appetite dwindling with time. At first, the person will tolerate small bites and sips, but later they will altogether refuse it. You might feel helpless because we equate feeding as an act of love. Yes, it is a source of stress, even more than the illness. But don’t lose your motivation and continue offering them.
You can offer them a variety of delicious and soft food. Ask them to sip some water frequently. They will surely refuse to do it, but you should continue your drill. Constant intake of medications causes dry mouth. So to make your loved one feel more comfortable, you can apply petroleum jelly to their lips.
You can also moisten them with any lotion or few drops of water to keep them lubricated.
4. Relief from physical pain:
It isn’t easy to analyze if your loved one is in pain or not. Sometimes the person is conscious, but in some cases, they are unconscious. So as a caregiver, it is essential to recognize the status of pain for their comfort.
For that, you should observe their body language and some other physical clues to rule out if they have pain anywhere in the body. The common signs you should look for are grimace, confused look, furrows on the forehead, increased respiratory rate, restlessness, etc.
These signs are visible with specific movements. Ensure that the physician has prescribed pain-relieving medications. Hence, don’t worry about giving too many painkillers to your loved one. Severe pain is very challenging to manage.
If the pain is still not under control, ask the physician to alter the dose accordingly.
5. Uncontrollable restlessness:
Uncontrollable restlessness is a delirium often observed in bedridden individuals—because anxiety and restlessness vary from person to person. The common signs of restlessness are confusion, agitation, getting out of bed, picking out their clothes or bedsheets, etc. try to find out the cause of anxiety and treat it accordingly.
If you are not able to rule it out, an anxiolytic may benefit. But always consult the physician before you give them any medication.
A take-home message:
A terminal patient may be full of distress and may experience many conflicting emotions. So to help them out and make them more comfortable, the best you can do is be available to them.
Your physical presence around them, holding their hands and sitting quietly, or listening to them can be very soothing. You can also arrange a surprise visit by their friends or other family members to make them feel good.
You can also create a calm environment with dim lights and soft music. Hence, try to spend as much time as possible and make memories with your loved one.