Sunday, July 27, 2008

Self-care for Caregivers

Many caregivers can become physically and emotionally drained if they do not take care of themselves, making it harder to care for someone else. So, to take care of yourself, you can follow these ideas:
  • Get rest
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Take your own medications
  • Set time aside for yourself each day (examples: take a walk, read, relax, etc.)
  • Try to balance caregiving with your social and work life
  • Express your feelings
  • Do not isolate yourself and get out of the house when you can
  • Participate in support groups
  • Schedule respite care
  • Be patient and compassionate

Monday, July 21, 2008

Role of Hospice Social Workers

Social workers play an important role in hospice care. They are just one part that make up the interdisciplinary team, which usually consists of doctors, nurses, and clergy. Social workers assist clients in finding resources for individuals.

During hospice care, social workers may help families alleviate stress with things such as with medical bills or finding respite care. If requested by the family, hospice social workers can also provide information on funeral planning.

Social workers can also provide counseling to the patient and their families with their emotions or other pending issues that may arise. In some cases, family conflicts can occur regarding a patient's care. In those instances, the social worker can provide a neutral point of view, who can listen and help the family sort out their problems.

When hospice services are no longer needed, grief and bereavement services are offered to the family for generally 13 months. Support groups are often lead by social workers as well.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Journaling...More ideas for writing

Caregivers: Jounaling can be a great way to look inward at how your experiences and struggles are affecting you. It also allows the opportunity for spiritual exploration and questioning.

- Find a picture of your loved one. Journal about the picture. What your loved one is doing, what you are doing, why the picture is important to your life together, the memories it holds for you, where God is present in your life together...

- Journal about any unresolved issues you have about your loved one. Write a conversation that never took place but that you wish you had had the opportunity to share with your loved one (expressions of love, the need for forgiveness/reconciliation, unresolved anger...)

- How is God present in your vigil? Where is God? Write about your experiences of God through your loved one, other people, visions, feelings... Write about your feelings towards God (peace, companionship, anger, strength...) Remember God is big enough to handle your feelings and their intensity.

- On your journey through your loved one's illness, what words did someone speak that you found meaningful? What words did someone offer that you found offensive/unhelpful? Journal about these words and why you feel the way you do about them.

- What memories about your loved one do you want preserved for your children? Write about the legacy your loved one leaves for the family. Write about your loved one's personal faith.

- How will your loved one keep living through you? Write about these traits (good and bad) and how you want to develop these parts of yourself. How has your loved one's faith experience affected your own spiritual journey?

- On sleepless nights, use your journal to uncover feelings, let go of anxiety, sort out confusion, understand self, release tensions and cope with stress.

- Draw a picture or make a collage of images that express your thoughts and ideas.

- Jot down isolated feelings. Explore creative options for dealing with these feelings or devise rituals for releasing them.

- Write the lyrics to a song that reflect your vigil experience.

- Write the prayers of your heart in your journal and save them to read when prayer seems difficult.

***Ideas taken from Hospice Net

Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the snow on the mountain's rim,
I am the laughter in children's eyes,
I am the sand at the water's edge,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle Autumn rain,
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the star that shines at night,
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.

- Mary Elizabeth Frye

A Comforting Analogy

Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”

“Gone where?”

Gone from my sight. That is all.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:

“Here she comes!”

And that is dying.

-Henry Van Dyke

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Advance Medical Directives - Advance directives are used to give other people, including health care providers, information about your wishes for medical care. Advance directives are important in case there is ever a time when you are not physically or mentally able to speak for yourself and make your wishes known. The most common types of advance directives are the living will and the durable power of attorney for health care

Bereavement - The act of grieving someone's death

Caregiver - Any person who provides care for the physical and emotional needs of an individual; can be formal (a professional, social worker, or volunteer) or informal (family member or friend)

Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Orders - Instructions written by a doctor telling other healthcare providers not to try to restart a patient's heart, using cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or other related treatments, if his/her heart stops beating. Usually, DNR orders are written after a discussion between a doctor and the patient and/or family members. DNR orders are written for people who are very unlikely to have a successful result from CPR -- those who are terminally ill or those who are elderly and frail

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPOAHC) - A legal document that specifies one or more individuals (called a health care proxy) you would like to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself

End-of-Life Care - Doctors and caregivers provide care to patients approaching the end of life that is focused on comfort, respect for decisions, support for the family, and treatments to help psychological and spiritual concerns

Grief - people's feelings and emotions in response to death, which may or may not include sadness, anger, frustration, guilt, longing, helplessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness

Anticipatory grief - feelings that occur before or in advance of an expected loss

Interdisciplinary team - a team of professional caregivers who work together to develop and implement a plan of care for the individual in hospice; May include doctors, nurses, medical directors, social workers, and a chaplain

Dyspnea - Difficulty in breathing

Fatigue - A feeling of becoming tired easily, being unable to complete usual activity, feeling weak, and difficulty concentrating

Acute Pain - Pain that has a known cause and occurs for a limited time. Acute pain usually responds to treatment with analgesic medications and treatment of the cause of the pain

Chronic Pain - Pain that occurs for more than one month after healing of an injury, that occurs repeatedly over months, or is due to a lesion that is not expected to heal

Delirium - A disturbance of the brain function that causes confusion and changes in alertness, attention, thinking and reasoning, memory, emotions, sleeping patterns and coordination. These symptoms may start suddenly, are due to some type of medical problem, and they may get worse or better multiple times