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By Joëlle Thiffault on

Palliative care support: How to help a loved one

Life sometimes presents us with heart-wrenching challenges, like providing palliative care support to a loved one. This delicate phase is laden with emotions but can also be a source of deep connection and love. It's a time when caregiving takes on a whole new meaning. In this article, we will guide you on offering loving and compassionate support to your loved one in palliative care while also taking care of yourself.

Accompagner un proche en soins palliatifs humanika

What is palliative care?

Palliative and end-of-life care, provided by specialized healthcare professionals, aims on improving quality of life for individuals with advanced serious illnesses. It focuses on pain relief, symptom management, and the person's overall well-being.

Palliative care services are also in place to help understand the illness, make decisions, and provide support to meet the needs of the sick person and their loved ones.

It's crucial to understand that palliative care does not signify giving up hope but rather transitioning to a comfort- and dignity-centered approach.

How to support a loved one at the end of life

Supporting a loved one at the end of life is a unique and personal experience. There's no one-size-fits-all approach, but some general principles can help you navigate this challenging time.

  • Listening and communication
    A listening ear is the most precious gift you can offer your loved one in palliative care. Let them express their feelings, fears, and desires. Sometimes, simple, compassionate listening can provide great comfort. Encourage open-ended questions and conversations, but also respect moments of silence.
  • Respecting your loved one's choices
    Honouring your loved one's choices and preferences in end-of-life care is essential. This includes medical decisions and personal aspects like where they want to spend their final days. Take the time to discuss these matters and genuinely understand their wishes. Your role is to support their decisions, even if they are difficult.
  • Providing physical and emotional comfort
    Physical comfort is a cornerstone of palliative care. Ensure your loved one receives the necessary medication and treatments to relieve pain and symptoms. If possible, offer simple gestures like soothing massages, relaxing baths, or playing gentle music to create a more peaceful atmosphere.

    Palliative care is also an emotionally intense time. Be present to listen, reassure, and comfort. Show them that you care every day. Acts of affection, loving words, and tender gestures bring warmth to these moments.

    Encourage friends and family members to visit as often as possible, as their presence can provide great comfort during this challenging period.

How to fulfill your role as a caregiver

Being a caregiver to a loved one at the end of life is a significant but challenging role. It's essential to prepare for this role and seek support, whether your loved one is in the hospital or at home.

Taking care of yourself: Supporting a loved one in palliative care can be emotionally draining. It's crucial to take care of yourself to continue offering solid support. Don't underestimate the importance of your well-being. Find time to rest, talk to a friend or a palliative care counsellor, and let your emotions out.

Professional and family support: Remember, you are not alone. Seek professional support services, such as palliative care counsellors or support groups. These resources can help you better understand the situation and manage your emotions.

Your family and friends can also be a valuable source of comfort. Feel free to share your feelings and ask for help when needed.

Consider seeking practical support from home care or facility care professionals. These dedicated professionals are trained to handle such situations and can provide invaluable assistance or offer you some well-deserved respite.

Supporting a loved one in palliative care is an act of profound love. It's a journey filled with empathy, tenderness, and respect. Each day presents an opportunity to create meaningful memories and provide invaluable support to your loved one. Your presence and love are the most beautiful gifts you can offer in this journey, where every moment counts.

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