December 13, 2018

Unity Hospice Helps Caregivers

Unity Hospice can help provide support for caregivers as well as patients

Hospice care is a team effort, with an integrated care team working together to help provide the best possible outcome for the patient.  The hospice team includes a Medical Director, Registered Nurse, Case Manager, Certified Nursing Assistant, Social Worker, Chaplain and Volunteers, to name a few.  The true heroes of the team, however, are caregivers, comprised of family, close friends and loved ones, or a professional caregiver.   Caregivers provide the necessary and primary support for the patient and work with Unity’s hospice and palliative care teams.

Caregivers are essential members of the care team, but often times they are also the least mentally and emotionally prepared members of the team.  There is a tremendous sense of responsibility and love that drives the caregiver to be everything for the patient and ensure coordination of family, medical care, appropriate intake of medication, cooking, cleaning and coordinating visitors…the list is exhaustive. 

The holiday time can increase the load for a caregiver, as they may feel compelled to recreate holiday traditions, feasts and a festive environment.  What truly is most important, though, is that the caregiver engages in self-care and not extends him/herself beyond a healthy capacity.

“It is important to look ahead for roadblocks and identify what are the stressors,” recommends Unity Hospice’s Stephanie Lubin, LCSW.  “Some traditions may need to be modified, or completed by a team instead of one individual.  It is important to identify what is the limit for a caregiver.”

What is very important, stresses Lubin, is that the caregiver not ignore the elephant in the room.  Holidays add additional responsibilities and stress in a good year, so holiday impact is increased during a time when the care of a loved one is the primary focus.  It is not healthy to try to do everything and beyond with the holidays.

“This could be the year new traditions are incorporated, or new people are tending to the old traditions,” said Lubin.  “Menus can be simplified, or the meal can be a contribution of dishes from everyone.”

One of the things that can be most appreciated by caregivers is simply being asked if they are okay.  You may open the floodgates for a connection and an opportunity for healthy venting.  Allow for them to share their feelings, be prepared to offer support or offer to take on some of the tasks performed by the caregiver.

Unity Hospice has volunteers who can sometimes relieve a caregiver for short periods of time, even if it is just to run to the store or take a walk around the block.  Taking some personal space is a very important reset button for a caregiver, said Lubin.

“Unity hospice staff supports caregivers in managing their grief, accepting current realities, and, around the holidays, helping them prepare and get through in ways that are manageable and meaningful,” said Lubin.

Additionally, Unity provides chaplaincy services and spiritual support to caregivers and families, in addition to its patients.

Connecting with other caregivers can provide a strong support network as well.  The ability to connect with others who are experiencing the same joys and pain of being a caregiver can help a caregiver feel less alone.  Look for community resources that cater to caregivers, like places of worship that offer a “Blue Christmas.” These services acknowledge that grief, loss and struggles are often as present in the holiday season as presents and celebrations, and can offer comfort for the caregivers.

In all, Unity Hospice provides support and care for all members of a patient’s personal care team, family and loved ones.  Let us help you and your loved ones provide the highest quality of care to those who are facing life-limiting illness.

From our family to yours, Unity Hospice is wishing you Happy Holidays and a Peaceful New Year.