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Challenges Family Caregivers Face When Caring for Terminally Ill Loved Ones

Sometimes, life will throw unexpected challenges that will test your family’s love and dedication for one another. One member getting sick is one thing. But knowing that your loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness is another.

Family caregivers will naturally want to exhaust every possible way to find a cure for their dying loved one’s disease. But sometimes, the best thing one can do is help their loved one make the most out of their remaining days. But that does not necessarily mean this magically makes everything better and easy to handle.

The following are the usual challenges family caregivers face when caring for a loved one diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Anticipatory Grief

It is only natural to grieve for someone you love after their death. But not many people know that they can grieve even if their dying loved one is still alive. Even if you are physically with them and spend most of your time caring for them, you may start feeling the pain similar to when you already lost a loved one.

This is what we call anticipatory grief. This is not typically a sign of depression but a distinct form of grieving. If there is one thing you need to know, it is the fact that this is an expected and natural response for those people who know their loved one will soon pass away.

You must let your emotions out instead of keeping it all to yourself. Talk to another loved one, a good friend, a counselor, or even join a support group. The least you can do is to find ways to ease their suffering and create beautiful memories during their last remaining days.

Lack of Caregiving Knowledge

There are times when family caregivers of terminally ill patients will need to undergo caregiving training. This is to make sure they are providing their loved ones with the best care possible. More often than not, this involves knowing what to do whenever their loved one is in pain.

But then, there are things you may not be capable of doing. You could be working a full-time job and cannot dedicate all of your time to cater to your dying loved one’s needs. He may need round-the-clock assistance, which is something you can’t provide.

Luckily, many palliative care services can help grieving families take better care of their terminally ill loved ones. This way, you can be sure that you get to improve your loved one’s quality of life during his last remaining days. You also get the necessary support you need to cope with their impending death.

Balancing Other Family Members’ Needs

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Many family caregivers get so caught up with caring for the terminally ill patient that they are often torn between taking care of their own needs. When healthy family members are no longer able to balance their own needs due to caregiving duties, their own health and happiness can suffer.  This can also cause interpersonal conflicts if not managed the right way.

While the terminally ill loved one requires special attention, the best thing family members can do is to take turns in caring for their loved one. When tasks are distributed, it becomes easier to care for their sick loved one. Healthy members get to have enough time to manage their own self-care.

Hiring additional help or asking for support from other loved ones and friends is also a good way to lessen everyone’s load. For instance, allowing the kids to have play dates with the neighbors will allow you to run errands and enjoy some alone time. Inviting their close friend over while you spend quality time with other family members is also a good idea.

Financial Strains

Perhaps the usual reason why many caregivers are stress about their loved one’s condition is because of the financial stress that comes with their illness. Not all people can afford the kind of treatments needed to ease the pain and suffering of terminally ill patients. Many families are torn between providing for the needs of the other family members and that of their critically ill loved one.

Since more terminally ill patients are unable to work, their life savings often get depleted. Their family members are left with the task of financially providing for the sick loved one. Thankfully, many organizations will help terminally ill patients financially.

Some terminally ill patients are qualified for Medicare hospice benefits. In addition, some organizations and government initiatives are offering financial aid and other grants to those affected by terminal illness. One only needs to apply to take advantage of these privileges.

Caring for someone who is terminal is no easy task. Thankfully, there are things you can do to manage issues associated with caring for a terminally ill loved one. With all the family member’s help, you can make your new role more manageable and less stressful.

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