It’s difficult to watch a loved one decline in health but it’s up to you to acknowledge the progression of your loved one’s illness. It’s up to you to discuss with them what their wishes are for their care and plans for their death as uncomfortable as it may be.

This is a list of things that will help you through the hard times.

Advance Directives:

What are Advance Directives? Advance Directives provide you a way to communicate to your family, friends and health care professionals what kind of medical care you want if you were too ill or hurt to express your wishes. Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to convey your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time.

A living will tells how you feel about care intended to sustain life. You can accept or refuse medical care. Issues to consider and put into writing include;

  • The use of dialysis and breathing machines
  • If you want to be resuscitated if breathing or heartbeat stops
  • Tube feeding
  • Organ or tissue donation

A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that names your health care proxy. Your proxy is someone you trust to make health decisions if you are unable to do so.

Learn:

Take time to learn about your loved one’s illness. Ask questions. Educate yourself on what you can expect and what resources are available to help you. Remember to keep them involved in the decisions that need to be made. Respect their wishes.

Home Health:

Home care offers an alternative to your loved the opportunity to heal at home. Often, when someone is required to leave home to receive long-term care, it signifies a loss of independence and this can cause depression and a feeling of being a burden on the family.

With home care your loved one is able to stay in their home with the assistance of health care professionals in a cost effective way. Close communication continues with their physicians and you as the family and caregivers. Education is provided to you on how to care for them. You are able to ask questions and expect outstanding care.

Hospice:

When the end-of-life is growing closer, your home health can assist you by talking to you, your loved one and their physician about end-of-life care. What is end-of-life care? It’s hospice. Hospice provides a team approach for support, assistance with medications, pain control, counseling and skilled staff. Hospice allows the patient to die in their own home with dignity, comfort and the assurance that the ones they care for will receive bereavement support after their death. With the support of their hospice team, the dying process will be a more comforting experience for them and you.

Support:

Seek support from friends that have had similar experiences, other family members, your church and your hospice and home health team. Don’t try to go it alone. Seek support, you will need it.