Category: Death of a loved one


How to Help or Get Help in a Health Crisis

 Two of the most well-intended but unhelpful phrases spoken during a health crisis for a friend or  family member are: “If you need anything, just call me,” or “What can I do to help?” So, what can you say or do when you really want to be useful or when someone offers help you might need?   Why We Don’t Respond We all have reasons why we don’t or can’t respond when friends, neighbors or even family members really want to help but don’t know what we need: When we’re in the thick of caregiving, mourning or worrying, we can’t think of anything that we would feel comfortable asking anyone else to do. We might think that we are the only ones who know how to do what needs to be done. It could have been ingrained in us that it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help. We may think that the person asking is too busy to fit in one more thing. We are embarrassed about what we haven’t been able to get to and don’t want anyone to know. The person we are caring for doesn’t want anyone else to do it. We don’t realize how worn out and in need of help we really are. We forget how good it made us feel when we were able to help someone, so we don’t give someone else the chance to help us.   Have Suggestions Ready When my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I knew the risks of caregiver burnout and not allowing others to help. I also knew that family and friends truly wanted to be helpful. I vowed that I would follow my own advice to other caregivers and not only let people help me but give serious thought to what I could delegate

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End of life signs

Recognizing when Death is Near: Planning for End-of-Life Care

It can be just as difficult to predict the exact time that someone will die as it to predict exactly when a baby will be born. However, there are signs you can watch for that will help you prepare mentally, emotionally and physically for this big change in your family’s life when end-of-life care is needed. As you care for your loved who may be near death, look for normal signs like these: Losing interest in and becoming less responsive to what is going on around them Sleeping or seeming drowsy most of the time Eating and drinking less than usual or not at all Irregular breathing, including noisy or gurgling sounds, sometimes called a “death rattle” Talking to someone who has already died A brief surge of energy and clarity of mind The loved ones of a person who is dying want to know what they can do to make the person more comfortable. Even though a dying person may seem unconscious, many professional caregivers think hearing may still be functional. Continue talking to your loved one. Express your love, hold their hand and reassure them that they can go when they are ready. Take advantage of a brief period of consciousness to say final goodbyes. Even though my father couldn’t talk, we put the phone up to his ear to let out-of-town family members talk to him. He seemed to respond to hearing their voices. Don’t try to force food or water. Going without food or water is not uncomfortable. Swallowing may also be a problem, especially for people with dementia. A conscious decision to give up food can be part of a person’s acceptance that death is near. If the person’s mouth seems dry, just swab it with water and apply lip balm. A “death rattle” may

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Caregiver Grief

When loved ones die, we expect family members, especially those who were their caregivers, to go through a grieving process. Because professional caregivers are paid for what they do, we don’t always realize that they may have a similar need to process their grief when a client dies or leaves their care for some other reason. As home caregivers and families who employ them, it’s important to acknowledge this grief and find ways to deal with it. Otherwise, it could build up to the point of “bereavement overload,” or the effect of multiple losses with little time in between for a grieving process. In one study of professional caregivers in a long-term care program, 72 percent of the caregivers were experiencing grief symptoms. The New York Times highlighted this issue in their article On Home Aides and Hidden Grief. Professional caregivers often build a strong relationship with clients, as they work with them over time. This is one of the great things about providing home care services as a caregiver. Though the relationship is a professional one, it is normal to have feelings of attachment. Families want to hire caregivers who will treat their elderly clients like family when providing home care services. That sort of intimacy means that caregivers, too, will ache when the people they’ve grown close to are no longer in their care. Anticipatory Grief There need not be a death for a caregiver to experience grief. “Anticipatory grief” begins before the person has died, but the emotions—anxiety, anger, dread, sadness—can be similar. When a family member of a client who has an injury, condition or disease like Alzheimer’s that progressively changes their personality, the grief may come from realizing that the person, as they knew them, will be “gone” even before they die. Family caregivers may

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