By June Duncan, riseupforcaregivers.org/
Preparing to help a loved one move into hospice care can take a toll on many family members. It’s a mentally- and emotionally-challenging task that often comes with feelings of guilt, grief, and sadness–especially if you have been providing care yourself–and there are usually financial considerations as well. Many individuals whose loved ones are terminally ill start the grieving process during this time, and suffer stress from making all the necessary preparations and figuring out how to pay for final arrangements. That’s why a large part of preparing for hospice care includes talking to your loved one about what their wishes are and learning about their health and life insurance policies.
In many ways, talking to your loved one about their final arrangements and care can be beneficial for both of you, even though it may seem like a very difficult conversation at first. Not only will it help give your loved one peace of mind that their wishes will be upheld, it will help you ensure that the process will be as easy as possible for both of you.
Here are a few things to consider when your loved one requires hospice care.
Take care of paperwork
There can be a lot of paperwork involved in getting a loved one into hospice care; you may need to find life insurance policies, health insurance documentation, a will, and a form giving power of attorney to someone they trust. If you’re unsure about whether your loved one has these items and they are unable to communicate, talk to immediate family members, or do an online search to find out more about any preparations they’ve already made. Having forms and applications ready can save your loved one a lot of time and hassle as well.
Talk to the caregivers
Having a loved one in hospice care must truly be a team effort between you and their caregivers. Keep communication open with the staff, ask meaningful questions, and give them your contact information should they have any questions or issues. The more you can help them, the better able they’ll be to do their jobs, and this will ensure that your loved one is well taken care of. You can also learn more about their education and background to ensure that they are well qualified to fulfill your loved one’s needs.
Keep your loved one comfortable
Living in an unfamiliar place with lots of new people can be overwhelming for an individual who is battling an illness, especially if they are a senior. You can help them adjust more easily by bringing them comfort items from home. Blankets, framed photos of loved ones, and a way to play their favorite music are just a few of the items that may bring comfort to someone who is ill. Be sure to check before bringing flowers or food, especially to someone who has cancer.
Don’t make decisions without your loved one
It’s crucial that you keep your loved one in the process of making decisions as long as they are able, especially when it comes to their final arrangements. These decisions are unique to everyone, so as long as your loved one is of sound mind and body, talk to them about what they want–and just as importantly, what they don’t want–when it comes to their last wishes.
Preparing for hospice care is a stressful process, but there are ways to ease the burden. With all the resources available to families, you should have no problem finding the right organization for your loved one’s needs. Remember to keep communication open as much as possible, and talk to someone–either a friend or counselor–if you feel overwhelmed. You are not alone.