It can be important for you to share the diagnosis of your loved one with your close family and friends. You can expect each of them to react and adjust to the news differently.
When you care for someone with a life-threatening illness, you will probably find it helpful to let those close to you offer support.
- Be honest while communicating about the condition of your loved one to your family members – discuss the future course of action with them and what potential role everyone can play in taking care of the patient.
- Talk about your concerns and encourage others to do the same. Many caregivers who want to talk about their fears are reluctant because they do not want to upset the family. This may produce communication problems during the later stages of treatment of patients.
- Encourage family members to spend time with the patient and share pleasant memories with them.
Talking to Children
It is important to give children opportunities to ask questions about a life-threatening illness and to express their feelings.
- Do not avoid informing your children from knowing that a loved one is dying.
- Involve children in regular activities with the patient.
- Inform friends of your children in school so that they can share their feelings with them.
Talking to Visitors
When friends and family know that someone is terminally ill, they may want to have a chance to spend some time with the loved one.
- Talk to the patient about meeting visitors and ask if he/she will be comfortable spending time with them.
- Give visitors a limit for the length of their visit.
- Discourage anyone from visiting who seems to have been sick or recovered out of a sickness.
- Suggest communication starters to visitors who may not be comfortable or have previously never talked to a terminally ill patient.
Caring for Yourself
It is important that you, the caregiver, take care of yourself, to remain physically and emotionally stable to help the patient.
- Plan time for yourself to get out of the house. Other family members or friends may be able to help, or a volunteer can be organised through the palliative care program.
- Try to get at least six hours sleep each night, and have rest during the day when the patient is sleeping.
- Set priorities. Time spent on regular chores could be passed on to other family members.
- Take care of your diet and nutrition.
- Share your feelings with family, friends or someone outside the family, such as the palliative care team. It is normal for you to have a mixed range of emotions and talking this over often can help you ‘share your load’.
- Relaxation techniques and yoga may be useful in helping you to relieve tension.
You may not need to move your loved one away to a hospital or a hospice to receive care, as end of life care can be provided at home.
When caring for someone at home, your hospice care team and you need to consider adapting your home to the needs of the patient.
Your doctor may also arrange for community nurse/s to come to your home and provide:
- hands-on nursing or personal care.
- advise on pain and symptom control.
- provide practical and emotional support.
List of Hospices and Palliative Care Centres