The end of someone’s life can be quick or it can be drawn out. It can be painful, or it can be painless. Whilst it is sad for the person whose life is coming to an end, some people don’t take into account how difficult it can be for the family around them.
If someone is suffering a long-term illness, family members often feel it is their “duty” to take care of them and despite end of life and palliative care being available, they often feel guilty accepting the help, but this shouldn’t be the case.
There is no set time or specific point within an illness that end of life care should begin. It all depends on each patient and how their illness progresses, but also on the carers and the amount of support they are physically and mentally able to give.
As your loved one enters the stage where they need end of life care, their needs can dramatically change and this can have a huge impact on the demands placed upon you, the caregiver.
Reaching out and asking for help is not admitting defeat or stating that you cannot cope and is certainly nothing to feel guilty about. It simply means both yourself and your loved one need care and support in order to make sure they are well cared for towards the end of their illness.
Perhaps your loved one can no longer talk, walk, eat, go to the bathroom or get themselves dressed and others may get to a point where they require total support. If you yourself also have a job and your own family to support, having someone who requires full time end of life care can be too much of a burden.
Not only does using end of life care provide you with some support and comfort, but it can also help your loved one in keeping their dignity. The most helpful interventions, whether they be in hospital, at home or in a hospice, are those which help in relieving pain and discomfort and allow family and friends to make final lasting memories without the burden of care.
Many worry about loss of control and loss of dignity as their physical abilities decline. It’s also common for patients to fear being a burden to their loved ones, yet at the same time also fear being abandoned. Talk with them, find out what their wishes are and then find a solution that is right for you all, but DON’T feel guilty in asking for help.