Dealing with a family member suffering from a serious or terminal illness is never easy and is often fraught with difficulties. Here are some tips for coping with such situations.

Well-being and quality of life

Some of the symptoms that bother the patient most and concern the family and caregivers are:

Pain

You should understand pain as an unpleasant and subjective physical and emotional experience; therefore, it is the patient who can best describe it. Important: if the patient says they have pain, there is pain.

Be clear about any medication you must administer, its name, dose and schedule. It is important that you write down any extra doses of drugs that have been necessary to control the pain in the course of 24 hours.

Cachexia – anorexia

This is characterised by decreased appetite, weakness, and thinning. It is important to understand that weakness is not caused because the patient does not eat.

Mood

Frequently, different alterations in the mood of the patient may appear such as anxiety, irritability, sadness or hopelessness. In these cases, it is important to:

  • Accept the different emotions without rejection.
  • Encourage communication, allow the patient to express themselves.
  • Create a pleasant and calm atmosphere.
  • Plan pleasurable activities for the patient.
  • Avoid loneliness.
  • Adapt the frequency and duration of visits.
  • Assess with professionals the need for psychological care and / or pharmacological treatment.

Often, it is the closest person, the main caregiver, who directly receives the patient’s discomfort. Experts in palliative care at home know the importance of finding moments to “disconnect” so as to maintain a patient and understanding mood.

Feeding

Food is not only a source of nutrients, but it also has an important personal, social and cultural significance. At the same time, it is one of the most frequent reasons for concern and suffering in families with patients suffering from chronic, advanced, progressive and end-of-life diseases.

In addition to the family or caregivers, food is one of the most important means to express affection for your loved one and one of the most effective tools to feel useful in the care of patients with advanced cancer.

However, loss of appetite is one of the most frequent symptoms of the progression of the disease and, therefore, a relevant indicator.

Bowels

The well-being of the patient depends partly on the regularity and consistency of their bowel movements, so you should bear in mind that:

The intake of liquids and fruit is important, but it will not be enough. Therefore, administer prescribed laxatives or inducers with the regularity indicated.

The hardness and amount of stool should be soft and at least every two days.

If there is any diarrhea, abdominal pain, bad smell, restlessness or lack of passing in 3-4 days from the last deposition, you should contact the doctor.

Mobility

Mobilisation consist of a series of exercises that help to restore the diminished physical functions and posture of the person, which alone they might not be able to perform, and should be aimed at achieving greater autonomy and promoting self-esteem.

To promote the person to ambulate it is important to condition the house, eliminate all obstacles that can make walking difficult such as slippery floors, carpets, steps, etc.

It is highly advisable that the doors are wide and floor surfaces are non-slip. Consider the use of railings or handrails, the use of comfortable shoes, wide, closed and non-slip.

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