Caring For a Loved One?
We understand the many ways having a loved one with a serious illness is impacting your life. We know the questions and worries you may have. We’re here to help you, too.
Caring for your loved one’s needs
The more you understand what your loved one is going through and how you can best care for him or her, the richer and more meaningful your time together will be.
Important legal and healthcare decisions
The end-of-life journey is eased considerably when conversations regarding medical care and wishes are held as early as possible. Legal documents such as a Living Will (Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates), Medical Power of Attorney, and Out of Hospital Do Not Resuscitate forms can set forth your loved one’s wishes for future healthcare decisions so that all family members are clear about his or her preferences. To learn more and to download these documents, please click here.
You also can download a free document from Hospice Austin to help your loved one organize his or her affairs. This is a tool designed to provide basic information to your family about your assets, liabilities and personal desires. Although it is not intended to replace or supersede a will or any other legal documents you may have executed, each family member, power of attorney, executor, trustee and guardian can use the document to help make discretionary decisions for you and your family. Download a copy of “Organizing Affairs” here.
Certified nurse aides
Hospice Austin certified nurse aides make regularly scheduled visits to assist with personal care, such as bathing, skin and hair care, oral care and bed linen care. CNAs are also available for light household duties to make your life easier, such as meal preparation and light housekeeping services in the patient’s room. There are also professional home health aides in the community you can hire to stay with your loved one for extended periods. Your Hospice Austin social worker can provide you with a list of agencies.
In addition to the clinical team, Hospice Austin volunteers are available and can visit with your loved one while you have time away. Volunteers also can assist with picking up prescriptions, providing transportation to appointments, and be an attentive and sympathetic listener.
Caregiving can be exhausting. There are options available to you. Your loved one can be transferred to a nursing facility for up to five nights to provide respite should you need it. Your social worker can help provide you with the necessary steps to arrange for respite care outside of your home.
Extended nursing/aide care is available to you during periods of urgent medical need allowing you to remain at home instead of going to a hospital; this level of care is designed for short periods of time until your loved one is comfortable. Continuous care is evaluated on a day-to-day basis to determine medical necessity.
We have a special team of nurses, social workers and chaplains who are available to respond to your needs 24-hours a day.
Caring for yourself
Caring for yourself is often last on your to-do list, but getting enough sleep, eating right and exercising can extend your resources far beyond the time it takes to do those things. Accepting assistance when it’s offered and asking friends and family for help can also lessen some of the burden.
This time of social distancing can make caring for a seriously ill loved one even more isolating. Hospice Austin has created a family and caregiver support group to provide a safe space to explore, process, and share anticipatory grief. This support group will:
- Enable families and caregivers to express and share their grief.
- Help individuals process and work through the complicated feelings surrounding a loved one’s end of life.
- Help Hospice Austin families build connection and a sense of community and support by normalizing and validating their grief.
- Facilitate connection and help prevent complicated grief during a time when caregivers are even more isolated than usual.
- Explore emotional processing through the body with breathwork and grounding exercises.
- Provide caregivers an hour to take care of themselves and their emotional energy, so they can keep taking care of their loved one.
This group is open to any families or caregivers of current Hospice Austin patients and occurs every Wednesday on Zoom from 12pm to 1pm. To participate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tthe group will be capped to the first 10 people that sign up each week.
When your loved one no longer needs a certain medication, your Hospice Austin nurse will help you render it irretrievable and dispose of it safely in the trash, rather than flushing it. (Landfills have liners that are designed to keep the trash from leaching into the soil around it. When medications are flushed, everything goes into the water system). When disposing a medication in the trash, mix it first in a plastic baggie with water and kitty litter or coffee grounds to make it irretrievable. If you prefer, you can turn the medication in to a pharmacy that has registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency as a collection site. Your Hospice Austin team can assist you in finding a location in your area, or to find a DEA registered pharmacy near you, click here.
Helpful local & national resources
There are many resources in our community to help you care for your loved one. Please talk to your Hospice Austin social worker. He or she will be happy to connect you with resources according to your and your family’s needs.
“We are indebted and thankful for every single person involved with our mother’s care. Our mother was treated like a queen. We were blessed to have her in such a caring and supportive environment. It gives us great peace of mind that she passed away with an actual smile on her face. You all are angels on earth. You have touched our family forever.” – Family member of a Hospice Austin patient