Caregiving: Know your options

Sep 21,2009

A terminal diagnosis always comes as a surprise. So too can the demands of providing care for a terminally ill family member. When contemplating how to care for your loved one it is important to first get an understanding of your loved one’s diagnosis and financial situation. Do they want to stay in the home? Are they willing to live in and can they afford to live in an assisted living facility? Or better yet are they eligible for hospice care?


What many people don’t realize is that Medicare and most private insurances will pay for hospice care, which provides comfort care for the terminally ill in their home or another location of their choosing, starting from the time they receive diagnosis that results in a life expectancy of six-months. Hospice also provides support services for the patient’s family.


If you determine that becoming a caregiver for your loved one is the best option for you, consider these helpful hints:


  • Spend time reminiscing with your loved one. Often they cherish these moments more than they cherish a clean house.
  • Accept help when it is offered and keep a list of things others can do to help you and your loved one. For example, you may want someone else to do the bathing if you are caring for your parent because you may find that task to uncomfortable to do.
  • Schedule weekly respite care to enable you to take a much needed break. 
  • Have a back up person if you become ill. Is the person determined to remain at home or are they open to going into a nursing facility for a few days? 
  • Verify that your loved one has a Will, financial power of attorney, advance directive and funeral plans.  If they don’t, work with them to get these affairs in order.
  • Take care of yourself. While care giving is rewarding, it also presents stress which can impact one’s health. The better you take care of yourself, the better you will be able to take care of your loved one.
  • Laugh as humorous situations arise. Laughter is healthy and a great stress reliever.

For more information about your care giving options, please contact any of the Samaritan hospice offices. Our staff consisting of hospice nurses, social workers and chaplains are more than happy to help you explore your options regardless of whether or not you choose to employ hospice.