End of Life Care
End-of-life care is the term used to describe the support and medical care given during the time surrounding death. People who are dying need care in four areas: physical comfort, mental and emotional needs, spiritual needs, and practical tasks.
Physical Comfort: Discomfort during the dying process can come from a variety of sources. Depending on the cause of the discomfort, there are things you or a healthcare provider can do to help make the dying person more comfortable.
Mental and emotional needs: Someone who is alert near the end of life might understandably feel depressed or anxious. It is important to treat emotional pain and suffering. You might want to contact a counselor
Spiritual needs: Spiritual needs may include finding meaning in one's life, ending disagreements with others, or making peace with life circumstances. The dying person might find comfort in resolving unsettled issues with friends or family. Visits from a social worker or a counselor may help.
Practical tasks: To relieve the person who is dying and to support the caregiver. A person who is dying might be worried about who will take care of things when they are gone. A family member or friend can offer reassurance.
Here are some things to consider when you are caring for someone who is near the end of life:
- Create a peaceful atmosphere.
- Keep your person warm, clean, and comfortable.
- Play soft music and give a gentle hand massage.
- Talk with the healthcare team about the best way to respond to changes to your person's appetite.
- Keep in mind that your person's voice may weaken, and they may talk less or avoid long conversations.
- Be a good listener, your presence and courage to listen will lessen your person's anxiety and fear.
- Attend to spiritual needs.
- If your person has always enjoyed humor, still incorporate it into your caregiving.
- Take care of yourself so that you can give your person the support and care they need.
- Get help with practical tasks such as hospice.
If the caregiver is open to receiving help, here are some questions you might ask:
- How are you doing? Do you need someone to talk with?
- Would you like to go out for an hour or two? I could stay here while you are away.
- Who has offered to help you? Do you want me to work with them to coordinate our efforts?
- Can I help … maybe walk the dog, answer the phone, go to the drug store or the grocery store, or watch the children (for example) … for you?