When loved ones become elderly and approach the end of life stage, it can be difficult for family members to accept. Noticing the decline of someone that you love can be particularly hard, and they may no longer seem like the person that you know so well. Maybe they no longer seem to enjoy the same activities, and perhaps they seem more withdrawn and less willing to engage in conversation. Just as it is hard for family members to accept that a loved elder is nearing the end of their life, it can also weigh heavily on the person.
Many of the difficulties experienced by families when caring for an elderly loved one stem from a reluctance to discuss what will happen when they approach the end of their life. Society has become increasingly open to discussing a whole range of issues, but death and the dying process remain a taboo subject. The reluctance to openly discuss death is understandable. Many people feel uncomfortable about speaking about it as the end of life stage is often considered an unpleasant time. It makes sense that people would rather avoid the topic altogether.
While family members may be hesitant to have a discussion about the end of life wishes and care of a loved one, it is a crucial conversation to have. Feeling unable to even discuss dying as a family can make the loss of a loved one an even more painful experience. Being unable to accept that they are nearing the end and reluctance to discuss it can make it much harder to process your feelings after your loved one has passed.
A lack of communication can result in misplaced blame and anger. This can manifest itself through arguments about petty issues, while the important discussions are ignored. It is not uncommon for resentments to build between family members, and they may accuse others of not helping enough, or conversely that they are interfering. Disputes can arise between relatives about the way that their loved one is being cared for and even the medical treatment they receive for their illness. Many of these discussions are the result of a lack of preparation and refusal to discuss the fact that a loved one is nearing the end.
Your loved one’s final days can be extremely difficult if you have not discussed their wishes with them beforehand. You and the rest of your family may need to make difficult decisions about your loved one’s care and treatment, which can become even harder if you are unsure what they would have wanted.
How an End of Life Doula Can Help
Modern life can be intensely busy. Unfortunately, a loved one being in their final weeks does not put the world on pause. Instead, family members often need to find a way to deal with all the responsibilities of working, running a house, taking care of kids, and so forth, while balancing these with taking on the duties of a caregiver.
Juggling the role of caregiver with a host of other commitments can mean that your focus is on providing your loved one with the basics; making sure that they take their meds, preparing food for them, and getting them washed and dressed. Through no fault of your own, this can leave your loved one’s emotional needs left unmet and opportunities to discuss their wishes and preferred end of life care can be missed.
In these final days and weeks of your loved one’s life, the services and support of an End of Life Doula can be extremely helpful as they provide companionship, support, and much more to elders in their last days. Having an End of Life Doula involved in the end stages of your loved one’s life will allow you to get the rest that you need and will take some of the pressure from you.
An End of Life Doula will be able to approach the subject of end of life care and their wishes with your loved one. Using their experience, the doula will be able to impartially discuss what your loved elder would like to happen near the end. This will help you as a family gain a clear idea of your relative’s wishes without causing further tension in the family. Once these wishes have been identified it is possible to start making the preparations necessary to honor them. This will ensure that your loved one spends their final few days in the way that they wished, and that their dignity and requests are respected.