Many have walked down the same path, rest assured that you are not alone.
The following information will help answer some of the questions you may have. If this is your first experience with the death and dying process rest assured that you are not alone. Many have walked down the same path. Our job is to support and guide both you and your loved one all the way to the end, every step of the way.
CARING FOR YOUR LOVE ONE
Caregiving is challenging emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually. Those who give of themselves to care for a terminally ill loved one are extraordinary people and we are committed to helping and supporting them in every way that we can. We continue to be amazed by caregivers who say “I can’t do this.” who, with the proper teaching and support, go on to be excellent caregivers. From supporting thousands of caregivers over the years we can tell you for sure; you can do it and you can do it well. Your loved one will benefit and your life will be much richer from the experience.
THE HOSPICE WALK
It is a very difficult time when medical solutions are exhausted by physicians and medical intervention. At some point terminally ill patients become tired and grow weary of the treatments, therapies and the pain these cause. When this time comes hospice may be called in. The primary purpose of hospice is to focus on improving the quality of remaining life.
The dying process can be managed by hospice in a way that provides dignity for the patient, as much comfort as possible and support for their loving family and friends. We hear all the time from our patient’s families that they would not have known what to do without hospice. Here at HeartsWay we are dedicated to the profession of Hospice and know the critical role we play during the Hospice Walk.
Throughout this site you can read about all of our services from nursing care, caregiver roles, necessary steps and the final moments and what to expect.
Caregiving is challenging emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually.
Those who give of themselves to care for a terminally ill loved one are extraordinary people and we are committed to helping and supporting them in every way that we can. We continue to be amazed by caregivers who say “I can’t do this.” who, with the proper teaching and support, go on to be excellent caregivers.
From supporting thousands of caregivers over the years we can tell you for sure; you can do it and you can do it well. Your loved one will benefit and your life will be much richer from the experience. We have compiled the following checklist to help you to prepare for the challenge.
- Caregiving takes a large amount of time and energy. Utilize your support groups (family, friends, church and, of course, the hospice staff and volunteers) as much as you can to give yourself a break from caregiving and to allow you to take care of yourself.
- All this support is wonderful, but unplanned visitors can be stressful for both you and the patient. Let people know how they can help you most effectively and the best times to come.
- Discuss the patient’s wishes for medical treatments, extraordinary life saving measures, funeral arrangements, financial arrangements, etc. as early as possible and follow up on those desires. These can be hard discussions to initiate, but the longer you wait the harder it will be for both you and the patient.
- Designate a place to gather and keep vital information where it is accessible and let others know about it. Make sure all caregivers know the location of any Advance Directives and the terms of these important documents.
- Make a list of people to contact when death occurs. Include day and evening phone numbers for family members, church, fraternal organizations, employer, etc. Contact the hospice nurse first and the nurse will take care of contacting the funeral home, the physician, the DME company and the pharmacy. The nurse will also take care of disposing of medications in accordance with state law.
- Plan the obituary notice with all appropriate biographical information and where you would like memorials sent.
- Funeral Arrangements — Have all agreements for prepaid funeral arrangements handy. If funeral arrangements have not been made, your clergy or the hospice social worker or spiritual counselor would be glad to help you with this. Record your loved one’s specific wishes to guide you. If the funeral home you have chosen is out of the immediate East Texas area, contact them ahead of time for the specific procedures to be used and the contacts to be made at the time of your loved one’s death.
- Insurance information — record the policy numbers, contact information and the location of the policy documents for all insurance policies (life, health, disability, long term care, Medigap, homeowner’s or renters, automobile and social security). Check on the details of the life insurance policy. Some policies will provide quick payments for funeral and related expenses.
- Financial information — record the account number, institution, type of account and location of statements and documents for all bank accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, securities, annuities and other financial instruments. Record contact information for any pension or profit sharing plans. Record the contact information and location of documents for any outstanding mortgages or loans. Record the contact information and location of statements for any credit cards. Record the institution, contents and the location of the key for any safe deposit boxes. Record the location of recent tax returns. Record the location of all deeds and titles.
- Have a will prepared or review and update the existing will as needed. Choose an executor you can trust to carry out the patient’s wishes. Think of potential conflicts between the executor and the beneficiaries and make arrangements to minimize them. Identify the sources from which funeral expenses, debts, taxes, probate fees, etc. will be paid. Identify the sources from which the ongoing living expenses for the surviving spouse and dependent children will be paid.
Don’t try to handle everything yourself. Let us know if there is any area we can help you with.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The patient should feel that he/she is at all times receiving competent, loving care by all concerned. There are certain signs and events which are likely to occur and which if anticipated and understood, can be satisfactorily attended to. We sincerely hope that the following information and suggestions will make it easier for you to care for your loved one.
- Take it one moment at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time.
- Try to maintain a normal routine.
- Get enough sleep or at least enough rest.
- Exercise regularly to relieve stress and tension
- Eat a balanced diet. Drink plenty of water
- If possible, postpone making major decisions, like selling your home or changing jobs, until after the first year of grieving.
- Find creative outlets to express your feelings, such as a journal, art, photography, needlework, or scrapbooking.
- Write a letter to your loved one telling him or her how you feel.
- Honor the memory of your loved one by engaging in an activity or project he or she held dear.
- Start a new family tradition in your loved one’s memory.
- Think about other times you have experienced a loss and the coping skills used to survive that loss.
- Allow yourself to feel all feelings – sadness, anger, guilt, helplessness, pain.
- Cry as much as you want to. Tears help release pain and tension.
- Forgive yourself for real and imagined transgressions or missed opportunities.
- Be patient with your grief. Don’t let others hurry you through your grief or tell you how you should feel.
- Attend a support group or talk to others who have lost a loved one.
- Seek out your most trusted friends or family for support when you need it. Choose to spend time with those who comfort, sustain, and recharge you.
- Accept the assistance of your close friends when they offer help. Don’t go it alone.
- Take a break from your grief and do something fun – try to keep your sense of humor. See a movie, read a book, listen to your favorite music, buy a new album, get a massage.
- Above all else, take care of yourself.