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How Can Hospice Help:

  • CAREGIVER TIPS


    When you’re caring for a patient with a life-limiting illness, these tips and patient care information can help you provide added comfort.

    Caregiver Hints

    Consistency
    Develop a routine in giving care by doing things in the same way each day. Routine helps comfort the patient and will help you make the most efficient use of your time.

    Records
    Days are often alike and remembering everything can be difficult. Write down the things you need to remember such as medications, bowel movements, nausea and vomiting or other complaints and symptoms. Write down any questions you want to ask the Hospice Nurse at the next visit.

    Meals
    If chewing and swallowing food is difficult for the patient, use a blender. Most foods adapt well to being chopped, pureed or liquefied. Try cold clear foods like ginger ale, apple juice popsicles, Jell-O or watery ice. Also try salty foods like canned soups or salty crackers. Don’t forget to pay attention to your own nutritional needs. Even if the patient eats poorly you need to eat good meals to keep your strength.

    Rest
    When the patient rests, make sure you take a break. Remember, what you are doing is important, but often tiring. To continue as a caregiver, you must take care of yourself, too.

    Medication
    The Hospice Nurse should be notified if medications are changed. Plan Ahead! Prescriptions should be refilled before medicines run out. Certain pain medications have specific refill requirements. Think ahead to weekends and holidays and plan accordingly.

    Additional Help
    Family, friends and neighbors may offer to help. Let them. Keep a list of errands, food, chores and appointments. When people call, you will be able to suggest specific actions that may be of help.

    Communication
    Please keep Hospice informed about the patient. Outside of normal business hours, messages can be left with the answering service. Hospice is available to answer any questions that may arise. Do not hesitate to contact us. If possible, give a trusted neighbor a house key and tell us the name of that person in case of crises.

    Patient Care

    Constipation
    Constipation can result from decreased activity, change in diet and the use of pain medication. Constipation should be addressed immediately. An effective plan to promote bowel elimination must be started early by increasing fluids, especially juices and adding bulk, such as bran and cereal if tolerated. The Physician may order stool softeners or laxatives. Enemas or laxative suppositories may become necessary. Contact your Hospice Nurse if constipation becomes a problem.

    Skin Care
    The skin requires extra care to prevent breakdown when patients spend a lot of time in bed. When possible, change the patient’s position at least every two hours. If reddened areas or skin breakdowns appear at points of pressure, especially tailbones and heels, notify Hospice immediately. Remember to keep bed linens dry and smooth and keep all tubes out from under the patient.

    Hydration and Nutrition
    When patient’s systems begin to shut down they no longer need food and drink. Well-meaning family members who encourage food and fluid intake do not improve the patient’s quality of life and may actually make it worse. Overloading a body with food and fluids that are not being processed by the body can create blockages and bloating, adding to a patient's discomfort. Ice chips to keep lips moist are always recommended as something family members can do to help.

    Positioning for Comfort
    Frequent changes in position help bed-bound patients remain comfortable. Using pillows, egg crate mattresses and fresh bed linen help reduce nausea, anxiety and respiratory stress. A massage often helps as well.

    Nausea and Vomiting
    Do not offer food if a patient is nauseous. To combat nausea, offer ice chips and a simple diet such as bananas, rice, apples and toast. Be mindful of odors such as garbage, perfume, household sprays, cooking aromas and others.

    Room Environment
    The amount of noise, light and temperature affect the well-being of a patient. It is best to keep the lights moderately low and the temperatures adjusted for the patient’s comfort. Playing soft music that the patient enjoys also can help manage the patient’s environment.

    Visitation
    The number of visitors should be limited to the number that can be tolerated by the patient. Monitor the length of visits also based on the apparent needs of the patient.