Caring for your Loved One

Caring for a dying person in the family isn’t an easy task. You have to accept the diagnosis you have received from the doctor, and at the same time help your loved one to accept it. You also have the responsibility of making decisions for the patient when he/she is no longer able to do so.

Communicating with your loved one

Communication involves talking, listening and ‘being there’ for the person; with a sympathetic ear. Showing patience and compassion, especially when the patient is expressing his/her anger or frustration, can help them cope with their fears and insecurities.

Ways to offer care to your loved one:

  • Physical gestures like holding, hugging, caressing.
  • Encouraging the patient to do household chores can help control everyday anxiety.
  • Bonding with your loved one over pleasant experiences from the past with some old photographs can help cheer them up.
  • Recreational activities like music, sports, entertainment should continue regularly with active participation of all family members.
  • Celebrating traditional festivals together can help maintain environment of normalcy and cheer in the household.

Role in Decision Making

Current medical technology gives us many ways to sustain lives of patients with terminal illness for a long time. Some people want every possible treatment medical science can offer in every situation while others may not opt for expensive options to prolong life during the end stages. In either ways, the caregiver plays a vital role in decision-making for the patient, more so when the patient is physically or mentally incapable of taking decision for him/herself.

Some aspects in which you will need to be involved in decision making are:

  • Treatment preferences – discussing future course of treatment with the doctor and healthcare team, using new medicines, discussing side effect profile of medications to be used etc.
  • Religious and spiritual decisions of patient in stages of pain and suffering.
  • Discussing financial constraints in treatment expenses and use of alternative medicine.