Assessing the Health of the Hospice Caregiver

 Assessing the Health of the Hospice Caregiver:

  Caregiver Keeping the caregiver healthy while a loved one is receiving hospice care is important. But it can be tough to accomplish on both an emotional and a physical level. What can Colorado health professionals, friends and families do to keep a caregiver safe? It starts with an assessment of their mental and physical health.

The emotional impact on hospice caregivers:

   The very nature of caring for someone who is dying is emotional. We all know that. But we sometimes overlook it in our concern for the hospice patient. 

   There is also the struggle with anticipatory grief. It creates a rollercoaster of emotion for caregivers. That added layer of stress can take its toll on caregivers.

   Finally we get to the parts of caregiving no one really discusses. The role often requires caregivers to complete tasks that may be downright embarrassing for both the caregiver and their loved one. A daughter helping to bath her father or a son helping to change his mother’s brief. The sadness that creates for the caregiver and the humiliation it may cause for their loved one are so difficult to cope with for both.

How to open up a conversation on caregiver health:

   Family and friends should begin by asking the caregiver about their own health. How do they feel? How do they think they are doing? Who is helping them manage their caregiving responsibilities? Do they have someone they can talk with about this difficult journey? These are all especially important if the caregiver is elderly. Most primary caregivers feel guilty for “complaining” when their loved one is dying.

What else can loved ones do for a caregiver who is suffering from burnout?

* We know time is a precious commodity in most primary care physician offices. And getting the caregiver to take time out to schedule a physician’s appointment for themselves during this time might take some convincing. But taking time to protect the caregiver’s health up front saves more time in the long run. The consequences of caregiving on the caregiver’s health can be dire. If they get sick, who will care for their loved one?

* Encouraging a caregiver to utilize the grief and spiritual care support services of the hospice can make a difference. There are no charges for the caregiver to receive this help.

* Volunteer to spend time reading or talking with the hospice patient so the caregiver can take a break.

    Remember that hospice offers a full array of support services for the patient and for the family. Be sure to talk with the social worker to find out how to fully take advantage of them.

Is someone you love a caregiver for a loved one on hospice? What have you done to care for the caregiver?

From personal care needs and case management to guardianship concerns, Seniors in Transition provides consulting services to help families turn frustrating health care problems into quality, affordable solutions. Seniors in Transition is here to help families in the Fort Collins, CO and Loveland, CO areas. Visit our website at or call 970.204.6977,  today.



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