The holiday season can be a beautiful period of peace, joy, and love. In many ways, the precious moments that occur over the holiday season are an excellent example of the reason that you chose home hospice care for your loved one in the first place. You want to create memories, treasure your time together, and enrich family relationships. In fact, some people we work with specifically opt for home hospice care just over the holiday season, and then return to inpatient care afterwards.
However, the holidays can also be extraordinarily stressful. And this is never more true than when a loved one is in failing health. Here are some tips to help you better plan for home hospice care over the holidays.
Holidays will mean that children are home from school and adults are home from work, that the regular schedule of the home is disrupted, and that visiting loved ones are excited to reunite. This can all lead to a lot of noise and hubbub in the house. While that could be just the thing your loved one wants, it can also be very difficult if they’re frequently tired or in pain. Keep a quiet sanctuary available.
The holidays are a good time to reflect and discuss important things that are on your mind. Hospice care isn’t just about medical treatment; it also includes mental and emotional care that can help you, your extended family members, and the patient themselves better deal with the grieving process.
The holidays come with special activities and traditions. Make plans for short periods of time wherein you can decorate cookies together, sing Christmas songs, exchange presents, or watch a holiday movie. Not every hour needs to be scheduled, but it’s often easier to make these special moments happen when you can plan ahead. It can also help you account for the ups and downs that come with disease, scheduling family time when the patient is feeling their best.
If you have family visiting from out of town, it might be difficult for them to see their loved one in a declined state. Be very clear about the condition and outlook before they come face to face.
Most of us pull out boxes full of holiday decorations each year. However, it’s important to remember that clutter is the enemy of a safe and healthy hospice atmosphere. Trips are one of the biggest dangers for elderly patients, and if your loved one has limited mobility, you’ll need room to maneuver in and out of the bedroom as needed. Keep hallways clear and ensure that everyone knows to clean up after themselves.
If you or your loved one is religious, find ways for everyone to participate in traditional or religious activities. This might mean trying to attend a church service together, or participating in sacred traditions. Religious practice can greatly strengthen a family’s ability to deal with grief.
It’s easy to get bogged down trying to make the “perfect” holiday, whether it’s the dinner, the presents, or the decorations. This is even more true when you’re aware that this could be your last holiday season to enjoy with your loved one. However, caring for even the basic needs of your loved one is a full time job. Pace yourself and focus on those things that are most important. If necessary, make a priority list for you and the patient in which you discuss those things that you’d most like to do during this season. Don’t worry if you don’t get to everything on the list. During this time, you want to be present and able to enjoy your time together; not stress about how there’s not enough of it.
Of course, the biggest tip that we can suggest is to get qualified help in your home. Here at Wings of Hope, our hospice care team can help you in every aspect of hospice care, whether that means providing respite for you as a caretaker, bringing in a consultant to discuss living wills and legal or financial considerations, helping to clean and feed your loved one, or updating medications to treat symptoms that impair the quality of life for your loved one.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you better enjoy this special season as a family.