For some, a moment will come when specialized care toward the end of their lives becomes inevitable. While we don’t like thinking about this situation for ourselves or anyone we know, hospice care is a critical and necessary component in providing those with terminal illnesses a dignified conclusion to their lives.
During this time, it’s important that friends and/or family members are surrounded by people who love them and care about them. Visiting somebody in a hospice can be stressful and uncomfortable, but finding the strength to do right by our loved ones is essential. Let’s talk about some helpful tips that’ll make you better equipped to visit someone in a hospice.
Before making any trip to visit somebody at hospice, it is important to call ahead. There may be some days where your friend or loved one doesn’t feel like having company. This certainly isn’t an indictment upon you, but depending on their illness or mental state, some days are better than others for visitation.
In addition, by calling ahead, you can consult with both your loved one and the staff to see if there are any particular items you should bring. This could be anything from specific foods to various gifts that’ll make your loved one feel better. For a list of items that are appropriate to bring to somebody in hospice, click here.
Be a Listener
Peace Hospice, a hospice in Chicago, IL offering services to those in need, states that the single biggest thing you can do is listen. Many people feel uncomfortable when visiting even close relatives under these circumstances, but what people in hospice care want most is to be treated normally and heard.
In some cases, the person may feel like speaking copiously. In other cases (usually when the person is quite sick), they may not make much conversation or even look in your direction. Follow the lead of the person you’re visiting.
Many people feel uncomfortable visiting in a hospice-like setting. It’s important to understand that there is literally no other option at this point. Ultimately, your love and concern for the person should be stronger than your discomfort in visiting such a place.
While there, understand that your friend or loved one may not feel like having company for long periods of time. Plan to stay for no more than a half hour; if they are comfortable with longer stays on this particular visit, then you can extend your visit. Consider various activities to do with a hospice patient.
Additionally, be sure to understand that hospice environments have schedules and patients have needs. You may need to excuse yourself momentarily for one or more reasons, or come back to visit another time.
Being in hospice isn’t easy. Despite all of the help your loved ones may have, they are still in need of much. They may feel more comfortable asking you to help them with a particular task than some nurse they just met.
Likewise, depending on their exact mental state, they may have trouble remembering things or remaining lucid. Your job as a friend or loved one should be to support and assist them. If they are coming in and out of consciousness, misremembering facts or think they are somewhere else, be there for them. Do not attempt to correct them or otherwise interrupt; just be a supportive caregiver for the time you’re there.
It can be a difficult and uncomfortable experience, but visiting a friend or family member in hospice is an important task. By being helpful, considerate, accommodating and a listener, you’ll give the person all of the love and comfort they need during such difficult times.