Providing care for another human being can be challenging and very rewarding. If you're new to the task, you may have questions about what to expect. If you've been doing it for a while, you may be ready for some help and advice.
A caregiver is usually a spouse, but can be an adult child or other relative. Caregivers can also be a neighbor or friend. A paid, professional caregiver may be used when care needs can not be met by relatives and friends alone. Learn more about the types of caregivers.
Caregivers provide emotional, financial, nursing, social, homemaking, and other services on a daily or intermittent basis. Most family caregivers volunteer their time, without pay, to help with the care needs of a loved one. Duties vary and may include providing personal care, cooking and feeding, toileting, dressing, bathing, carrying out routine medical procedures, and managing a household. Caregiving may involve learning about hospice, giving medication, driving to doctor appointments, and providing help with finances.
During the final stage of life, there are no "rights" or "wrongs." Whatever you feel like doing for your family member is the "right" thing to do. This may be no more than sitting or lying with him/her and communicating the comforting assurance that you are there.
Hospice nurses, social workers, hospice aides, and therapists will work with you to teach you the skills and techniques you need to provide safe, effective care for your loved one, whether it's how to move someone from bed to a wheelchair or how to administer medications. They will be a resource for you, answering whatever questions you may have and supporting and encouraging you in your role as caregiver.
It's important for caregivers to take precautions against depression and exhaustion. Providing care can take a toll on someone already holding down a job or raising a family. Caregiving can create changes in family dynamics. Feelings of sadness, anger, isolation, and stress may arise. Things a caregiver can do to avoid 'burn-out' include
There may be times when caregiving needs are greater than can be provided by family and friends. When that happens, it may be necessary to look for additional help. Home care agencies and private paid caregivers may help fill the gap.
Lumina Hospice & Palliative Care maintains a list of private caregiver agencies and independent caregivers which may be available for hire. If you'd like a copy of this listing, please contact us.
While hospice can provide assistance in locating additional help, we do not routinely cover the cost of paid caregivers.
There are things you can do to support friends or family members who are responsible for the care for someone with a terminal illness or condition. Some examples:
There are many organizations where caregivers can find information and support.
Click here for dates and times for the Lumina Caregiver Support Groups in Linn and Benton counties.
Click here to learn about Powerful Tools for Caregivers, a 6-week educational program designed to help family caregivers.
Transitions is a community program from Benton Hospice Service designed to help individuals and families live well with a serious, life-limiting illness. Transitions is for those who are either not ready for, or not appropriate for, hospice care.