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What You Can Do To Be A Supportive Caregiver

When a loved one is dying, family members and other loved ones are suddenly thrust into the role of caregiver with little preparation, and without knowing what to expect. Hospice can help.

  • Give yourself and your loved one time to adjust to the diagnosis.
  • A positive attitude is beneficial for you and your loved one.
  • Giving care to a loved one on hospice requires patience, flexibility, courage and a good sense of humor.
  • Good communication is essential to learning how best to work with your loved one.
  • Plan special times together away from the routine of treatment, such as a special evening out for dinner, a movie or play, etc.
  • As a caregiver, you can choose to take the primary caregiver role or, depending on the level of support from family and friends, divide it between two or more persons.
  • Use a journal or notebook during your loved one's appointments to take notes and help you stay organized.
  • Encourage your loved one to engage as much as possible in normal daily activities to the level they are able.
  • Give yourself permission to feel emotions about your loved one's situation, and confide in a friend or counselor to provide insight and support.
  • Set up a list of activities that your family or friends can sign up to do weekly or monthly.
  • Make time for regular exercise, meditation or some other form of relaxation to help reduce your stress.
  • If care is long term, arrange for extended periods of relief so you can re-energize.
  • Maintain as much of your routine as possible, but recognize that you may need to alter some of your daily activities if you are the primary caregiver.
  • Taking care of yourself is important: get adequate rest and nutrition, and take time for personal care.
  • Select funny movies to watch together - good humor is healthy for the body and soul.
  • Allow yourself private time to do nothing, or something important to you.
  • Spiritual support through prayer or the guidance of a spiritual leader can be good medicine.
  • Designate a family member or friend who can help field phone calls regarding your loved one's progress.

Remember, you can find the support you need through hospice staff, volunteers, and support groups. Being a caregiver can affect you emotionally, physically and financially. Take advantage of caregiver support groups and credible websites for resources and support.

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