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Providing Support For Friends And Family With Terminal Illnesses

Receiving news of a diagnosis of a terminal illness is a bitter pill to swallow for everyone involved.
Knowledge of the impending death of someone you love is extremely challenging, but as they
journey through the last days, weeks, or months of life, it is important to keep the focus on them. As
you struggle through the emotional rollercoaster that being friends and family with the terminally ill
presents, instituting the best possible end-of-life care is very important.

The end-of-life experience and needs vary from person to person; some mainly deteriorate
physically, others mostly undergo mental and cognitive decline, and some may be affected both
ways. They all still deserve the same level of emotional and physical support before they pass away.
You may decide to care for them at a dedicated center or at home with the help of the providers at
Hillside Hospice, either decision is fine. But because of the difficulties of waiting for certain death,
you may be understandably lost on how best to help them through the wait.

Here are some of the best ways to provide support for your loved one with a terminal illness as you all prepare for the inevitability of their exit from this world:

BE PRESENT

Quality time spent with your terminally ill loved one is really the greatest gift you can give them. The best way to express how much you value them is to spend as much time with them as you realistically can. Physical contact during these visits can mean a lot to them, so don’t hesitate to hold their hands and give warm hugs where possible. Alternating these visits with other family members and friends will help make up for moments when you can’t be present and ensure they are never alone for too long.

MAKE THEM AS COMFORTABLE AS POSSIBLE

One of the few things you can control is the external environment in which they receive end-of-life care, and it's important to maximize the comfort levels. Let their rooms be devoid of unwanted noise, play their favorite songs at low to medium volumes, and ensure the temperature is just right. If they can still communicate, ask them what they would like and strive to provide exactly that for them.

ENCOURAGE THEM TO SHARE THEIR LIFE STORIES

With death approaching, one tends to fear that they may not have lived a good life. You can help ease these fears by prompting them to share some great stories from their past. Recalling fun adventures and meaningful relationships should help them realize they have indeed lived a life to be proud of.

CATER TO THEIR SPIRITUAL NEEDS

The desire to be more spiritually involved will probably increase for those who believe in religion and spirituality. Some others will seek a connection to a higher power for the first following their diagnosis; it is best to indulge rather than discourage them. Whether you agree with their beliefs or not, respect their wishes and put steps in place to ensure their spiritual needs are met. Invite clergypersons, imams, and other spiritual leaders to counsel them and make relevant texts, books, and materials available for them to consume.

REGULARLY REMIND THEM OF HOW MUCH THEY MEAN TO YOU

Many terminally ill patients find their sense of self-worth in how much they are valued by the people closest to them. You can provide great support by providing regular reassurances that they have had a positive impact on your life. Remind them they are important and will not be easily forgotten when they are gone.

ASSURE THEM THINGS WILL BE TAKEN CARE OF IN THEIR ABSENCE

Terminally ill patients will often worry about the people, property, and affairs they will soon leave behind. You can help ease that worry with reassurances that plans will be put in place for their kids, pets, houses, and whatever else they are leaving behind. Discuss your plans with them and seek their permission before going ahead with your proposed plan, so they feel involved and respected.

SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP

The unique and demanding responsibilities of caring for a terminally ill patient may sometimes be too much to bear, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Hillside Hospice provides professional home hospice aides, medical social services, spiritual support, and skilled hospice nursing that will be very beneficial to you and your family whenever you need a break or helping hand.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Last but certainly not least, you need to take care of yourself in these trying times. See a therapist to fully process the numerous emotions and thoughts you feel. Take breaks whenever you feel overwhelmed. To provide great support to them, you have to take care of yourself.

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