Making the transition into hospice care can be a difficult and demanding time for caregivers and loved ones. You’ll have paperwork to fill out and countless calls to make to family members and friends. At times, you may feel overwhelmed and upset, which is perfectly normal. As you go through the transition into hospice care, you’ll want to find ways to get yourself ready emotionally for hospice. If you or a loved one will soon be entering hospice care, here are some ways to emotionally prepare for this transition.
Ask As Many Questions As You Need
As you prepare for hospice care, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor and nurses lots of questions. If there is any part of hospice care that you do not understand, ask your healthcare providers. This is especially important if there’s something you’re nervous about. For example, if you’re worried about how much pain you’re going to experience, ask your healthcare providers what they think. Your doctors and nurses will answer your questions truthfully and with empathy.
You may also have heard some myths about hospice care, and you might be worried that these myths are true. Your healthcare provider will help you understand exactly what hospice care entails. By asking questions, you will be able to clear up any mysteries about hospice care, and you’ll be able to feel a little less anxious.
Know your Limits and Take Time for Yourself
Preparing your loved one for hospice care can be often be easier said than done for a caregiver. Your to-do list may seem endless. It will also be filled with items that take a huge emotional toll, such as calling close friends of your loved one. It is easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of things piling up that you need to do.
To prevent burnout and to protect yourself emotionally, set limits for yourself. Write down everything that you need to do before your loved one begins their hospice care. Pick a few tasks to do every day, and create a manageable to-do list for yourself. Try not to think of all the other things you need to do—simply focus on the task at hand.
Once you finish your set of tasks, take a break. A small break between phone calls or visits with your loved one will help give you time to process everything that is happening. During these breaks, do an activity that relaxes you. Take a warm bath, visit a spa, or go for a long walk in the park. Spend some time alone in silence, and let your thoughts wander where they will. After this short break, your head will feel much clearer, and you will be able to continue with the process of helping your loved one.
Talk to a Counselor
Counseling is a vital tool for caregivers and hospice patients. Counselors can help hospice patients understand their illness. They can help you cope with the emotional toll of the illness, and they can ease any fears that you have.
Caregivers can also greatly benefit from talking to a counselor. Caregiving is physically and emotionally demanding. If you do not have anyone to talk to about what you’re going through, you’re at much greater risk for burnout.
Counselors can also help you understand the emotions you’re feeling as you help your loved one. It’s not uncommon for caregivers to feel negative emotions during the hospice transition, such as anger and frustration. Caregivers will then feel guilty about having those emotions, and they will often try and repress those feelings. This can then lead to more stress and anger. A counselor will be able to help you understand why you’re feeling those negative emotions, and they will let you talk through what’s upsetting you.
Counseling is also helpful if you and another family member are starting to get frustrated with each other as you prepare your loved one for hospice. During the counseling session, you’ll be able to air your grievances. The counselor will then help you find solutions to your problems.
The transition into hospice care is an emotional time for everyone involved, from the patients themselves to their caregivers. Counselors understand this and are able to finds ways to help you cope your emotions during this tough time.
Write Down What You’re Feeling
When your frustration or anxiety gets to be too much, open up a journal and write down what you’re feeling. Write everything you’re feeling, even if it’s an emotion you’re ashamed about. The journal is for your eyes only, and it can be very therapeutic to get all of your emotions and thoughts on paper. It can also help you make sense of everything you’re feeling. Allow yourself to free write for as long as you need and about any subject. Do this exercise as often as you need as you prepare your loved one for hospice care.
Confide in a Friend
If you need a break from hospice care preparation or simply need to talk to someone, confide in a good friend. Choose a friend who you can be completely open with, and tell your friend everything that’s going on with your loved one. Discuss your anxieties, and ask your friend for any advice that they may have for you. Talking to a good friend will allow you to vent your frustrations. Afterwards, you will most likely feel much less stressed.
Preparing for Hospice Care
The transition into hospice care is an emotional time for both caregivers and patients. As you go through this transition, be sure to ask your doctors and nurses any question that you may have, no matter how small. Also, if you’re a caregiver, take breaks to prevent yourself from burning out. The transition into hospice care can be difficult physically, mentally and emotionally. Be sure to give yourself the time you need to prepare for this transition.
If you have questions about hospice care, contact us at Harbor Light Hospice. We’re happy to assist you with any questions you may have about any part of the hospice care process.