Helping a sick or elderly relative who requires a large amount of care in their final years is one of the most stressful things that a family member can go through.To help prepare, it’s important to talk about everything as much as possible, including the emotional support that they might need, their financial arrangements, or even your loved one’s wishes in their last days. Here’s how an open dialogue and planning for the future can be a big help.
Look after yourself
The task of caring for somebody in their final years is often made all the more difficult when carers neglect to take care of themselves. While it’s easy to forget that you also need to be kept in good health, the irony is that you’ll be less able to care for your relative in their final years if your own health is suffering – and your loved one will take no comfort in seeing your own physical and mental health suffering on their account.
Try to get some sleep. Don’t overwork yourself. Remember to eat properly, and try to get some moderate exercise at least once a week. Most importantly, if you’re struggling, say something – discussing the stress that you’re under with a trusted friend or partner can be enough to help you deal with the strain.
Know when to stop treatment
The medical industry in the US centers on treating disease for as long as possible. However, there’s increasing debate as to whether this is always the right course of action. For patients whose chances of surviving an illness are narrowing, treatments such as chemotherapy and invasive surgeries may give them an extra few months – but it often comes at the expense of life quality. Those extra months may be spent in considerable pain and discomfort, which can be exacerbated by well-meaning relatives who are not ready to accept the inevitable.
Discuss treatment options with an open mind and an open dialogue. Choosing to end treatment can often be far more beneficial for everyone than adding extra months of suffering to a loved one’s life.
Take care of last wishes in plenty of time
Nobody wants to pass on without knowing if their family will be looked after once they’re gone. It’s therefore important that it is all taken care of in plenty of time – ensuring that last wishes are captured while your loved one is in a soundstateof mind. For example, discussions about whether a person wants to buried or cremated can be important when it comes to respecting their final wishes and so that the appropriate funeral, burial, or cremation services can be arranged.
Similarly, it’s important to discuss and capture in writing your loved one’s wishes concerning organ donation. Even if your loved one is a donor card holder, the most important factor is that the next of kin is aware of their wishes. That way, everyone can focus on enjoying as much time together as possible.