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Leaving Well

Caring for a loved one at the end of his/ her life is a challenging experience. As end of life care can last between days and months, you should seek advice from your healthcare professional and find ways to approach the situation in a loving and calm manner for yourself and your senior.

End of Life Care


Palliative care refers to medical care and support that focus on the needs of the patients approaching end of life, where a cure or reversal of the disease and its process is no longer possible.

The purpose of palliative care is to improve the quality of life and relieve pain. As a caregiver, you should discuss palliative care options with the doctor, together with your loved one.

You can understand more about palliative care from the Singapore Hospice Council or Moments of Life website. You can also enroll for training courses to manage the needs of your loved one at home, and watch learning videos here.

THE DEATH CONVERSATION

Beyond addressing the day-to-day care needs, the other challenge that caregivers face is approaching their loved ones on the topicof death. Not only is dying a deeply personal journey, but talking to your loved one who is dying can be made harder if if your family perceives it as a taboo topic.

However, talking about death does not hasten the death process. Rather it can help you to better deal with the worries and fears. Involve your senior as much as possible by planning ahead to know his/her values and preferences. This helps you in deciding the care arrangement when they can no longer do so. If you are uncertain how to carry out the conversation, these cards by the Singapore Hospice Council or games can help to guide the session.

Let your loved one take the lead in the conversation and do not force it upon them. Sometimes, your senior may not want to talk. It is okay to sit with him/ her in silence. Be kind and understanding. Encourage them to share their goals and memories. Reminiscing and laughing about funny moments help you and your loved one to appreciate and enjoy the time you have together.

The stress of seeing a loved one suffer can lead to family disagreements. You can reduce this by sharing and communicating, to keep the family comforted and informed on your loved one’s condition and wishes. Have an open and honest discussion on the final care so that family members can offer their help and share responsibilities. There are family counsellors who can help during such difficult times.

For more tips in talking about dying, go to the Singapore Hospice Council and the Dying Matters website here.

BE AWARE OF YOUR OWN NEEDS

Caring and managing emotions at the end of life can be stressful and overwhelming. Do remember to take care of your own needs. Eat balanced meals and take time to take a break and rest. You and your family can take turns to care for your loved one.

However, if these emotions do not improve over time, do speak to professionals such as social workers, counsellors or doctors about it.

Support groups:

Here are some ways to deal with your feelings:

Feeling
Examples
Suggestions on Ways to Deal or Cope
Worried or anxiousWhat is going to happen? What if it's painful? What if something goes wrong?Accept these feelings. It is okay to feel worried or to be anxious about things. Try to go ahead with everyday life. Worry is normal.
DenialMaybe the doctors are wrong. This cannot be happening.
Express your feelings to a loved one or close friend. Just talking it out could help you to deal with the situation.
BargainingMaybe if I pray every day, she will get better.
Explore your feelings. Think about how you feel and why you are trying to change things. If you feel any regrets, express them and try to let go of them.
ImpatienceI wish his suffering will end quickly.
Enjoy the moments you have with your loved one, and focus on the present moment.
Guilt
What if it is all my fault? I should have forced her to go for treatment earlier.It is okay to cry, or even laugh. Whatever you are feeling is acceptable. Talk to someone about your feelings.
LonelinessMy dad is my best friend. What will I do without him?Talk about your good times together and share the memories you want to cherish. Communicate with your loved one.
EmptinessI do not know what to feel. I feel nothing. Maybe I am cold-hearted.Say to your departing one what is in your heart. It will help you to come to terms with the situation.
Self-pityLife is so unfair. Everyone is happy but me.Pray or meditate, or simply have a chat with a close friend or family member.

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Caring for your loved one towards the end of their life in a peaceful and loving environment.
Leaving Well
Caring for your loved one towards the end of their life in a peaceful and loving environment.
Leaving Well | Agency for Integrated Care Singapore