Options in Care: Palliative Care

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Are you caring for someone who has a terminal condition? Medical advancements have come a long way.  Even so, your doctor may be forced to sit down with you, your loved one, and other family members to consider the possibility that the best course of treatment going forward is to keep the patient comfortable. Free of pain and discomfort, your loved one can enjoy their remaining days and weeks with loved ones. This option of care is called palliative care.

Palliative care is a type of specialized medical care that focuses on the comfort of a person who has a severe illness or disease. The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for the patient and their family in their remaining days, weeks, or months. Provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who are trained in this method of care and work alongside the patient’s regular medical team, palliative care may be used alongside curative medicine, or it may be chosen in place of painful or unpleasant restorative treatments. One is never too old or too young to receive palliative care. Click here for more resources to help you better understand how palliative care works.

Palliative care teams often work alongside hospice at the end of life to give the patient relief from pain and discomfort related to their disease as it progresses. Such symptoms as fatigue, depression, and shortness of breath may be improved through the use of palliative care practices.

As with hospice services, palliative care should not be frightening or even discouraging for one who has faith in an afterlife with their risen Savior. With an enhanced quality of life and pain managed, your terminally ill loved one might have the time and opportunity to say important things to those around him or her. These final days and weeks can create beautiful memories with children, grandchildren, and others when the patient is in no discomfort but still able to engage with others.

Chris and I hope you will join our conversation this week at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about how palliative care practices have enhanced the life of someone you know.

 

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Making Room for Mom

Caregiving from far away is challenging at best, as Betsy learned when her career took her 400 miles away from her aging mother. When we married, I moved almost as far from my mother. It’s one of the reasons we started our homecare business; we saw how hard it was to know your parents are aging well when you live at a distance.

When Betsy and I moved to Roanoke, we found a house that would have enough room for one of our mothers to move in and have her own space if that became necessary. Removing the distance is one option that might make care more manageable. But if you are contemplating moving an aging parent or relative into your home, there are several factors you should consider before making a commitment that might be larger than anticipated.

First, think about whether you might need to make some modifications to address your loved one’s aging needs now and in the future. Is your home age-friendly for both younger and older inhabitants? When Betsy’s mother would come for a visit, her bedroom (our guest room) was upstairs on the same level as our children’s rooms. While in her late 80’s, she could still negotiate the stairs and said upon leaving that her legs were stronger for having climbed stairs every day. Had she ever come to live with us, she would have needed a downstairs apartment with no stairs at all, because she could no longer climb stairs in her 90’s. Other decisions might involve bathroom modifications to add grab bars or a walk-in shower, or wider doors to accommodate a walker, wheelchair, or second kitchen so that your parent can make their own meals to feel more independent. Here’s a link from Agingcare.com that illustrates more about home modifications.

Multigenerational living has both its benefits and its challenges. You need to consider and respect your family’s feelings when deciding to move an aging relative into your home. Also, if you have siblings, listen to their thoughts and feelings as well. Remember, it takes a healthy community to balance care for the best outcomes. Invite lots of input, and don’t forget to ask your mom or dad what they think about how moving in might work. Click here to find out more about multigenerational living.

Then there is the cost of having your mother or father move in to live with you, and the question of their care needs assessment. If they need care, do you have the time to provide that care in addition to your current responsibilities? Will you be balancing the new responsibility of caring for an aging parent or relative with managing a job or career and nurturing a family? If you have a spouse, kids, work, pets, church, and community involvement, it’s easy to lose things in the whirlwind of activity, and you certainly don’t want one of those things to be your aging parent OR your family!

Caring.com gives an excellent summation of things to consider when Mom might be moving in.

Betsy and I hope you will join our conversation this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about finding balance when mom moves in.