Improving The Last Few Weeks of Life For a Family Member
Unfortunately, everyone faces the difficult prospect of a parent or a loved one suffering from an illness that ultimately leads to death. The fact that it frequently happens doesn’t make it any easier when you are experiencing it. As hard as it can feel for you, ultimately, your loved one will be at the centre of the decisions you make around this time.
You will want to ease your loved one’s physical and emotional pain, respect their wishes and allow them to die with dignity. If you have never been in a situation like this before then you may be feeling lost and confused regarding the best decisions to make for your loved one. Companions of London have put together some helpful information for anyone who is currently facing this situation and hoping to improve the last few weeks of life for a family member.
Have honest conversations
Your first instinct may be to shy away from what is happening and tell little white lies to your loved one about the situation, but honest conversations do need to happen and they will help both you and your loved one. Approach these necessary conversations sensitively but avoid using euphemisms such as ‘going to a better place’, as sometimes being straight up and using the word dying can avoid confusion.
Encourage your loved one to express any fears and worries, you don’t want them to be building these up. You can discuss these things and seek advice from a medical specialist if required. Being honest will help your loved ones will not only help them at this time, but it may also help you come to terms with things too.
Think about where they are staying
Many people have already made decisions about whether they would like to spend their last few days and if you are able to, always ensure that you support your loved one’s decision and help make it happen. The majority of people would prefer to be in a familiar place, often their home, for their last days rather than a hospital.
There are lots of companies that will be able to support you with palliative care at home if it isn’t something that you can do alone. Accepting help with end of life care at home will allow you to fulfil your loved one’s wishes and also keep them comfortable during the last few weeks.
Encourage eating and drinking
It is very common for people to become less interested in food and drink in their last few days, but their nutrition and hydration is still important. Try to support your loved one to eat and drink, you know them better than anyone else, think about foods you know they love and offer them small portions. It can be a great way to not only get them to eat but to also cheer them up.
Due to drinking less, you may find that your loved one is also experiencing a dry mouth and cracked painful lips. You can easily provide mouth care to keep their mouth and lips moist and comfortable. Ask a medical professional about the best way to do this for your loved one, advice may vary depending on the individual.
Fill spare time with happiness
These last few weeks can feel long and lonely for your loved one and you may not be able to be with them the whole time, which is completely understandable. Call of other family members, ask people to pop round and invite their friends over, fill their time with happiness. A visit may be enough to take their mind off of what is happening for a little while and we are sure that you will notice a difference in them.
People visiting isn’t the only way to bring enjoyment to your loved one. Think about their favourite music, films they love to watch or even videos of family and friends. Simply playing something in the background can take their mind to a happier place.
How Companions of London can help
Companions of London understand how difficult this time can be for you and they are here to support you in any way that you require. They can provide you with experienced staff and elderly companions to assist with palliative care at home and in-home respite care during this time. They can support you in any way that you need and help you to ensure that the last few weeks of life for your family member are as comfortable, stress-free and happy as they can be.