Updated: Sep 9
How to Help Your Loved One in Hospice Enjoy Their Final Days
When a family member or loved one enters into hospice care it can be overwhelming to the ones left to care for them. Without knowing much about death or the process of dying, we might feel unprepared and uncomfortable or unsure what to do and say in order to help our loved ones enjoy their final days. We are of the view that this time of life is an opportunity to offer comfort and peace of mind to those we love as they make this transition. We can help them not only feel at ease but to enjoy their last days as well. There are a variety of simple activities you can do to help your loved one through their final days and give you lasting memories to cherish also, as being there for your loved one and helping them to enjoy their final days is all about spending time with them. Read through the list below and keep in mind that personal preferences and comfort levels come into play as well as if your loved one is mobile/able to use a wheelchair or if they are stationary.
Converse with Them
Even if you do nothing at all but talk, conversation has a way of lifting people’s spirits. You can talk about the things you’ve always talked about with this person: sports, crafts, current events or happenings in the community. You might also bring up memories you’ve shared with this person or things you’ve done together that you enjoyed.
Alternatively it might simply be your time to listen. Your loved one might want to reminisce on old memories that you were not a part of- their childhood or school-age years- in which case you can sit back and enjoy the fond memories that come to their mind, asking questions when appropriate.
Pull Out a Photo Album
Another way to relive memories is to pull out family photo albums, either of yours or your loved one’s, and look through the pictures together.
Read to Them
You can also let your loved one relax a bit while you read to them. You might pick out authors they enjoy, opt for easy to digest short stories or poems, quick humorous tales, verses from the Bible or even clippings from the newspaper. Reading takes a little of the pressure off to come up with conversation and it might even inspire a discussion afterwards.
Make Sure They are Comfortable
It might be something as simple as grabbing an extra blanket but making your loved one feel as comfortable as possible is important in their final days. You can cook them their favorite meal or dessert, set up a vase of their favorite flowers or bring in a dog to pet. You know your loved one best so anything that makes them feel calm and comfortable is a great way to show how much you love them.
Watch a Movie or TV Show Together
Play a Game
If Your Loved One is Mobile...
If your loved one is able to get out of bed and has a wheelchair available, heading outside in the fresh air is an excellent way to enjoy their final days together. You can do all of the activities above, al fresco. Take your loved one for a stroll through a garden or local park- stop and smell the flowers, set up a small picnic, look out for the animals that pass by or people watch. If the weather isn’t right for a trip outside you could bring them to the kitchen while you prepare their favorite treats, set them up in a different room and play music together or another simple activity they might enjoy.
At the end of the day, helping your loved one to enjoy their final days means tuning in to their comfort levels and simply being present. Alleviating discomfort is priority number one along with your closeness, and when you can do something to bring up their spirits or lighten the mood it becomes a bonus. Trust in yourself and your care-giving abilities to know what your loved one needs most in their final days and take this opportunity to yourself appreciate these final moments.