Caring for the Caregiver
Caregivers often express that it is both a privilege and a challenge tending to the needs of loved ones at the end of life. Precious months are filled with meaningful conversations and treasured moments. But they are also consumed with heartbreaking decisions and daily trials that can lead to emotional and physical exhaustion and stress.
Caring for yourself is the best way to ensure that you—as a caregiver—will be able to manage the emotional and physical strain that is commonly experienced by those who care for hospice patients. Here are a few helpful reminders:
- Eat well. No matter how you feel emotionally, your body continues to require a well-balanced diet.
- Get rest and a good night’s sleep. Take a nap while your loved one rests and ask your family and friends not to interrupt these rest periods. If your sleep at night is disturbed because of caring for your loved one, you need this extra rest during the day.
- Exercise within the limits set by your physician.
- Take time for yourself.
- Let others help you. Friends and family want to help – let them. Hospice volunteers also are available to help with errands or to stay with your loved one while you go out.
- Ask for help – your hospice social worker can help you get the resources you need.
Education and Resources
To help you navigate the important role and responsibilities of caregiving, we have compiled a patient and caregiver handbook. It offers suggestions and resources to better care for your loved one—and yourself. All home care patients receive a copy of this handbook at the time of admission. If you would like us to email you a printable electronic file, please ask a member of your hospice team.
We also have a booklet What to Expect at End of Life, which will help prepare you for the final days.
Care Dimensions provides support throughout your grieving process, which may start as soon as your loved one is admitted to hospice care. Our Grief Support staff offers individual counseling and group support, as well as opportunities to remember and celebrate your loved one. Our library includes books and videos for children and adults that can be used in our office or borrowed.
Following the death of your loved one, a member of our staff will contact you by phone, letter or visit to provide support, which will continue for the first 13 months of your loss. Please visit our Grief Support section of the website for more information about grief support groups, workshops and resources.