Here are some suggestions to help make this time of year more joyous and enjoyable for everyone…
Keeping it balanced
- Don’t be afraid to say “No, thank you”; and, only agree to do something if it’s comfortably manageable.
- Many people have time off during the holidays; and, even if not, people are usually more willing to help. So, take advantage of this to improve communication and connections and get more support from your network of family and friends.
- Specifically, ask family or friends to provide some respite from your caregiving. Just a few hours can help renew your energy.
- Be mindful that circumstances change, so some “traditions” may not work anymore. Don’t force it. And, if it makes sense, use that change to start a new tradition.
Season-specific caring tips
- Schedule activities early in the day if possible. For someone ill or injured, their fatigue and stress levels can increase throughout the day.
- Try to maintain a sense of routine for the care recipient. Ask them how they want to celebrate over the holidays and get them involved with the planning.
- Keep decorations to a minimum to avoid clutter that may be hazardous to a frail or disoriented person.
The Holiday Gathering
- If you’re getting together with family and/or friends, make it a potluck, or ask a family member(s) to prepare the meal. Order in, or go out, for your holiday meal! Some restaurants or grocery stores sell holiday meals for take-out.
- Keep the numbers manageable. Noise and hectic activity can be exhausting for the person who is ill, and can burn you out too!
- Unfortunately, holiday gatherings can cause old resentments to resurface when people spend an extended period together – especially when the stress of caregiving is added to the mix.
- Holiday gatherings can be a reminder of loss. It is natural to feel sad. Try and remember, everyone is doing the best they can.
- Avoid comparisons with past holidays. Yes, your family situation has changed and this year will not be the same as before, but it can still be enjoyed in its own unique way.
In summary, enjoy your time together, celebrate the uniqueness of the situation, don’t overdo it, and ask for help if you need it from family and friends.
Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care
If you or a family member is facing a terminal illness, emotions can be overwhelming. It can sometimes be difficult to know what to do, and who to turn to. Some patients, reluctant to place the burden of caretaking on loved ones, opt to spend their final days in a hospice. But it is often possible for terminally ill patients to remain comfortably at home until the end, as long as the family has the right home care support in place.
When a patient reaches the end of treatment options, the doctor usually refers him/her to a palliative care team. The team may include physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual advisors, and more. Indispensable to the team are the caregivers, both family members and trained personal support workers (PSWs). These people will provide home care, practical support and companionship, which is crucial.
Selecting a Home Care Agency for End of Life Care
Home care agencies provide different types and levels of service, so be sure to do your research. Choose an agency that provides:
- Choice. Many organizations send a rotating roster of workers. This can be frustrating for patients, and for family members who have to explain the patient’s needs over and over again. The best home care or nursing agencies try to match your family with the perfect PSW. If your family prefers to work with someone who speaks your mother tongue or understands your culture, for example, a good home care agency will have enough diversity to meet that need. Ask to meet several home care candidates, and choose a caregiver who is a good fit for your family, and who can relate with the patient. You will be depending on this person during one of the most challenging times any family will face, so it’s important that you feel comfortable with the caregiver(s) who will be providing home care.
- Variety of services. Some home care agencies send caregivers for companionship only. Others specialize in providing personal services such as bathing, dressing, and grooming. Be sure to find an agency whose workers will provide a range of services, from administering medication to doing laundry, or from driving the client to appointments to playing cards and running errands, if necessary.
- Flexibility. Premium home care agencies understand that your home care needs may change from week to week. Choose a home care agency that is open to changing the schedule to fit your needs. You’ll want to find one that offers 24/7 service, and that can provide workers who will support your loved one at home, hospice, or in the hospital.
- Qualifications. And of course, make sure the home care agency you choose selects personnel very carefully. They should have completed a PSW certificate course, and have at least two year’s experience. They should be screened, insured, and paid fairly.
Accessing Funds for End of Life Care
There are various ways in which services can be delivered through the health system, or privately. You may be eligible for funding for a PSW; more information is available on the Health Canada website.
A good caregiver can provide home care, comfort, and support to the entire family through this most difficult time.
Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care