Terminally ill patients need care, compassion, and comfort. Relatives and caretakers must work to improve their quality of life during their final days. A hospice provides all the support a patient needs during the final days of their life. However, there are ways to improve their quality of life even more. Here are some ways in which you can help:
1. Give Them Control
People in hospice care often struggle because they have lost control over their life and schedule. This can lead to a feeling of helplessness, which takes a toll on a patient’s mental health. Caregivers should give patients some of the control back by letting them make a few decisions regarding their day-to-day schedule. Offer them options and let them choose what activities they prefer. It is a good idea to keep patients involved in the decision-making process as much as possible. Giving them more control over their life can help them develop some independence and confidence.
2. Be Present
A hospice will have a full-fledged team to keep your loved one comfortable, but it can’t replace the care and comfort provided by loved ones. The presence of family and friends improves a patient’s quality of life significantly, especially during the final days. Try to visit as often as you can and stand vigil by the patient’s side during their last moments. The unwavering support will give them peace by removing some of the uncertainty associated with death.
Keep communication lines between you and the patient open and honest. Discuss end of life, all the practicalities, ask questions, answer your loved one’s problems, and resolve lingering issues. The last thing you want is to have regrets about missed opportunities down the line. Take time to clear the air and resolve any disputes peacefully. This can help the patient gain some peace, which will also improve the quality of their life.
4. See to Their Physical Comfort
Many chronically ill patients experience pain and discomfort every day. You need to make sure they’re as comfortable as they can be by providing things like pain medication, heat or cold pads, ointments, etc. You can also have a professional massage expert come in to help soothe some muscle stiffness. Most hospices have qualified physical therapists on their staff to keep patients active. Exercise and physical therapy help patients regain some independence and flexibility.
5. Helping with Appetite
Many chronically ill patients experience appetite loss, especially as they approach death. This can be difficult to handle for the patients and their caregivers. The hospice will provide a detailed diet plan to help patients get all the nutrition they need, but you can help by bringing their favorite food items. Look for food that is light on the stomach and stimulates the appetite. Treats might uplift the patient’s mood and brighten their day. If the patient has completely stopped eating or drinking, place some ice in their mouth to keep it from getting too dry.
6. Offer Emotional Support
Patients in hospice care are vulnerable to anxiety, restlessness, and depression. Consistent emotional support from loved ones can help stabilize volatile emotions. Patients are less likely to become depressed if their relatives visit regularly and offer comfort. Maintain a calm and soothing demeanor while caring for the patient. Your calm will transfer to them and help them feel less agitated.
7. Improve the Environment
Improve the patient’s environment by bringing in some flowers, lighting scented candles, and placing a few family photographs around their bed. You can also play some soothing music in the room to help relax them.
Small things like regular conversations, can improve the patient’s quality of life significantly. You can ask the hospice staff for advice if you want to do more.