Hospice nurses often find themselves providing comfort and care for others, in addition to their patients. That’s just a normal part of the profession, whether it’s a family member or a loved one from Mt. Vernon and elsewhere having a difficult time with everything, or sometimes other medical personnel who are new to hospice care who may need a little reassurance.
But there’s another group that also needs to make sure it is regularly taken care of: the nurse. Today’s hospice nurses have received instruction in dealing with death and grief, and are encouraged to find ways to keep their emotional batteries ‘re-charged,’ to find the positive in unpleasant circumstances, and be compassionate and sympathetic whenever possible.
The team at Above and Beyond Health Care is happy to provide access to experienced caregivers, nurses and other professionals who specialize in working with patients in hospice situations. Not only do they have experience with this process, but they can also offer pointers to family caregivers and supporters about what makes hospice care a little different than other caring situations. They also can share information about area resources that can help make life a little easier for caregivers.
Self-care is important
One of the biggest ways hospice care can differ from traditional medical care is the role of the caregiver, especially someone like a family member who hasn’t had significant medical or nursing training.
In non-hospice situations, he or she may focus on offering basic care and support, with the hopes that they will recover. There may be some stressful moments and worries that their health may gradually decline, but they can always check in with a primary health care provider and know that they’ll get through rough times.
But in hospice care, the prognosis is usually terminal. This means a primary doctor won’t be involved, and there are more details to arrange and discuss, such as finances and funeral arrangements. There may even be some spiritual or philosophical discussions as the patient ponders his or her coming death.
There are also more stresses on some caregivers, especially those with a personal connection to the patient.
For instance, a child or a spouse who is providing care not only will have to take care of their loved one’s mental and physical needs but they’ll have to do so knowing that their loved one will be passing away in the near future. This can make each day a gift as well as a challenge.
The stress of these types of situations may also increase as their loved one declines, which is common, whether it is a physical weakening or memory loss from dementia.
That’s why self-care is vital for caregivers in these situations, and Above and Beyond Home Health Care encourages it as well.
Some strategies to take your mind off the daily stresses can include:
- Respite services. Above and Beyond Home Health Care is happy to send a caregiver to stay with your loved one for a certain amount of time. This will allow you the opportunity to run some errands or do other tasks to help you take your mind off the current situation. Maybe go shopping? Maybe get a meal by yourself? Maybe get a manicure with a friend? Maybe go to a support group meeting for caregivers? Or to the gym? You have plenty of options, and we’re happy to provide a skilled caregiver to keep your loved one safe, on a regular or occasional basis. It could also be a fun opportunity for them, such as if a physical therapist or massage therapist comes over during that time.
- Yoga/meditation. Even if you are watching someone around the clock, there will be opportunities where you can take a few moments to yourself. Consider using this time to de-stress and clear your mind with a session of yoga or meditation. The stretching will feel good and you’ll also feel calmer.
- Ask for help. As hospice and palliative care programs increase around the country, more people are starting to be familiar with this type of care, including members of your local medical community or home health care agencies. It’s a good bet all of them will be happy to offer you some suggestions to focus on your self-care and reduce your stress.
- Look online for other resources. Did you know that International Self-Care Day is this month? The annual celebration is July 24, and people all around the world are encouraged to look for ways to focus on themselves – nothing selfish or negative, but more positive and mindful. The goal is to encourage and support efforts to promote general health and general wellness at the individual level. Some communities even organize events such as a school or public health promotions.
- It’s OK to say no. You’re helping someone in their last days, so may not have time for other personal or professional commitments right now. But at least you can pick and choose what you put your efforts into.