How to make the most of the hospice experience

November 3, 2015

Palliative hospice care is designed to give dignity and assistance to those who are in the final stages of life. Even so, it's often not an easy place for your loved one to transition to -- and it can be hard on relatives as well. During this time, it's important to deal with grief and work with hospice staff to help ease your pain and the pain of your loved one. Here is what to expect from the hospice experience and how to make the remaining time with your loved one as special as possible.

How to make the most of the hospice experience

1. Finding closure

  • One of the most important aspects of hospice care is making peace with loved ones and finding closure.
  • Now is the time to say goodbye to the person you love and even if there were difficulties in your relationship, it's best to try and overcome them both for you and the person in hospice.
  • In general, try to be warm and caring with each other as this will help you bring the closure you need during this difficult time period.

2. Caregivers need time

  • During this period, it's important you're in a good mental and physical state.
  • According to an Ipsos-Reid survey in 2004, Canadians require 54 hours every week to properly care for a dying loved one at home.
  • Try to partake in mediation, regular exercise, yoga, or speak with a counsellor, as helping yourself will make it easier to help your loved one during hospice.

3. Helping day-to-day

Often, there are little things you can do to help with day-to-day problems your loved one might be suffering, such as dealing with pain or discomfort. Here are some ways to help:

  • Speak to staff about providing proper painkillers or providing a morphine drip to help deal with difficult periods
  • Add a humidifier to the room, provide oxygen support or helping your loved one change position can aid with respiratory difficulties
  • Provide lollipops or ice cream to deal with dry lips, or simply rub an ice cream or wet cloth across your loved one's mouth
  • Medical professionals can provide various other methods to comfort your loved one while in hospice as well. These methods include physical therapy, medication and psychological counselling.

4. Potential benefits of spirituality

  • Spirituality can help many people throughout the hospice experience.
  • Spiritual counselling is available for many different religious denominations, and even if your loved one isn't religious, speaking with a member of a religious community or a religious counsellor can often be a source of comfort, even if they're simply listening and showing compassion.
  • By trying to create a positive atmosphere, finding closure, and dealing with pain and discomfort, you will be going a long way to help your loved one during palliative hospice care.
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