End of life thoughts by francy Dickinson
Dear Francy; Dad has been quiet and sleeping most of the time now. He is on oxygen, high pain meds and just moves through the care giving without much interaction. I know he is getting close to passing, what should I be doing now?
The care giving in the final days of your elder are always difficult. For some the fuss of the advanced pain and more care givers to help you is overwhelming. Some days are so quiet you are worried how to know when someone has actually passed.
Here are some ideas for you:
- Just be sure to talk around the person, even if they seem asleep or in a coma. Use your voice to tell them what is happening to them. “Dad, I’m turning you over now.”
“Mother, I am going to give you a face wash and put on your moisturizer.” Just be you, speak in a normal tone, speak slowly and loud enough for them to hear you. If nothing else; it will give them a sense of calm.
- If you are worried about something ASK. Call the care giver line for your care giver team, it has an RN in charge of it and ask for them to call you back. Write down some questions and they will kindly let you know how to handle them.
- Say, “I love you.” Often. Right to the end talk and say you love them. I always tell them how much they have done for me and I appreciate all they have done. I say it often and with honesty.
- If there is a “wake up day” enjoy it. Many times people will be quiet for a few days and then all of a sudden they rebound and become talkative. I always know that is towards the end. Many times they will be awake longer and talk about memories and things very easily. Just know this is normal and enjoy the moments and the quality of their conversation. Often they will pass just the next day or two.
- Ask when medications can be removed. This allows the pill taking to be easier. Palliative care is when only the “comfort medications are given.” You can ask your care team for guidance, but this is a good thing. Not a bad thing. The senior does not have to try to swallow a lot of pills.
- Give them easy to swallow and tasty foods. The end of life is no time for a diet, if they want cocoa…get them cocoa.
- Make sure family members know things are going down. Even if you have members of family that you personally do not enjoy…let them know. Everyone is to be given a goodbye time…you just remove yourself during their visit and they say what they say. It’s all part of the passing. No regrets, be kind.
- Remember to honor their faith or no faith…its not you…its your senior that you honor. If you are into a faith and the senior is not…be kind. Have the minister visit you, then say “HI” to them…not spend loads of time with them when they do not practice your faith. And visa versa, being kind is the key to end of life loving care.
- Don’t be afraid to leave them and get some sleep. Passing comes when the senior is ready…allow yourself to eat, bath and sleep. You are a caring person, you deserve to care for yourself.
- Try not to worry so…I know I was a mess. But try…this is part of life…yes, its sad and hard, but don’t spend hours crying in the senior’s room before they pass. It does go through to their mind and makes them uncomfortable. They will not rest as easy…energy is the key. Keep your energy calm like you would for a young child that was unwell. Just allow the time with them to ride, have some low music on, read a book out loud, take calls from friends next to their bed and chat on. That is what comes through…an everyday tide of ups and downs.
- Take pictures to remember. Write a journal to process your own feelings and drink and eat to keep yourself well.
- Allow them to go. Tell them its OK for them to leave. That everyone loves them and if they need to leave, you will be alright. This permission to pass is more important that you can imagine.
Remember your love and care has given your senior a safe and calm life down their path. You have allowed them to feel loved and kept them from feeling alone. You live on, in their honor and you are able to know you gave them your love.
I want to thank you, for your hours, days, months and years….of loving support. May you and your senior find peace in the end. Blessings, francy