Late Stage and End-of-Life Care of Loved Ones
Caring for a loved one at the end of their life can be very challenging. During a person’s last days and hours, everyone is going to have different wishes and needs. However, there are some aspects of caring for a loved one that is common for all patients. They include communicating well, maintaining hydration, managing symptoms and medication, supporting them to make decisions about their care, and possibly even arranging legal guardianship in AZ.
Even if your loved one has been living with a terminal illness for a few months or even years, it can still be very shocking for them and those who are close when they reach the last days of their life.
If your loved one wants to know how long they’ve left to live, you shouldn’t make any specific predictions. You could speak in terms of weeks, days, or hours if it helps, but try to explain that there are no certainties, and everyone is different.
Supporting Your Loved One Make Choices About Their Care
When a loved one is dying, the focus of every decision you make must be their needs and preferences. Try and find out the following:
How much they want to be involved in making decisions about their care.
Whether they want someone to be with them when they have conversations with social care and healthcare professionals.
If they have recorded any treatment preferences in an advance care plan.
Has someone been legally nominated to make health and care decisions on their behalf?
Have they recorded their wishes using a Recommended Summary Plan for Emergency Care and Treatment?
Hydration and Nutrition
During a person’s last few days, it’s not uncommon for them to lose interest in food and drink. At such a time, support your loved ones to eat and drink if they want and can. Find out if there are any particular foods they like and offer them small portions.
You might be worried about your loved one not eating or drinking, but it’s always best to be guided by your loved one at this stage.
It is, however, essential to provide mouth care so that your loved one’s mouth and lips are moist and comfortable.
People nearing the end of their life may lose control over bowel movements or pass urine. As a result, they may need help keeping clean and dry.
During the last days, your loved one may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Nausea and vomiting
Noisy chest secretions
If you think your loved one is in discomfort, speak with their healthcare professionals to help manage their symptoms.
Your loved one’s physician will regularly monitor their medication as it may need to be changed, depending on their needs and preferences. They will discuss their medicines with them and decide to prescribe drugs to make them comfortable and manage their symptoms.
It is usual for health professionals to prescribe medicines your loved one might need should their health worsen, and they can no longer swallow medicines. Usually, medications will be given by injection or through a syringe pump.
Medicines are prescribed in advance, so there will be no delay in giving them to your loved one. As soon as any symptoms appear, your loved one can have them.
Providing Emotional Comfort
The physical needs of a person who is dying vary, as do their emotional needs. However, some emotions are common to many patients. They might, for example, worry about loss of dignity and control as their physical abilities decline. In addition, it’s not uncommon for people reaching the end of their life to fear being a burden to their loved ones and at the same time fear being abandoned.
There are several ways you can offer emotional comfort to your loved one, for example:
Keep them company, talk to them, read to them, watch TV or simply sit and hold their hand.
Don’t burden them with your feelings of sadness, fear, and loss.
Allow your loved ones to express their fears of death, even though it can be tough to hear someone you love to talk about leaving family and friends behind.
Allow them to reminisce.
Avoid withholding difficult information if they’re still able to comprehend.
Honor their wishes.
Respect their need for privacy.
Keeping vigil in the last hours of life is a way to show support and love for your loved one. If you decide to do this, continue to talk to them, touch them, and comfort them.