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Palliative Care at End-of-Life

Palliative care (also known as End-of-Life Care) refers to medical care and support that focuses on the needs of patients approaching the end-of-life stage when a cure or reversal of the condition is no longer possible.

The purpose of palliative care is to improve the quality of life and relieve pain. As a caregiver, you should discuss palliative care options with the doctor, together with your loved one.

You can understand more about palliative care from the Singapore Hospice Council. You can also enrol for training courses to manage the needs of your loved one at home, and watch learning videos on caregivers’ training.

Discussing Death with Loved Ones

One challenge that caregivers face is approaching their loved ones on the topic of death.

Dying is a deeply personal journey. Talking to your loved one who is dying can be made harder if the family treats it as a taboo topic. Talking about death can help everyone involved deal better with their fears and worries.

Tip 1: Involve Your Loved Ones

Caregivers should involve their loved ones approaching the end-of-life stage as much as possible. You can do this by planning ahead. Take time to learn his/her values and preferences. The knowledge and understanding will help you to make better decisions about their care when they are no longer able to.

Tip 2: Let Your Loved One Lead

Let your loved one take the lead in the conversation and do not force them to discuss death. Sometimes, he/she may not want to talk. It is okay to sit with him/her in silence. Be kind and understanding.

Tip 3: Share Memories Together

Encourage them to share their goals and memories. Reminiscing and laughing about funny moments will help you and your loved one to appreciate and enjoy the time you have together.

Tip 4: Communicate with One Another

The stress of seeing a loved one suffer can lead to family disagreements. Try sharing and communicating more. Your family will feel comforted when they are well-informed on your loved one’s condition and wishes.

Tip 5: Discuss Openly and Honestly

Have an open and honest discussion on the final care so that family members can offer their help and share responsibilities. There are family counsellors who can help during such difficult times.

You can also use these cards by the Singapore Hospice Council to guide the conversation. For more tips, go to the Singapore Hospice Council and the Dying Matters website.

Taking Care of Caregivers

Caregiving at the end-of-life stage can be stressful and overwhelming. Remember to care for your health by eating a balanced diet and taking time to exercise and relax. You and your family can take turns to care for your loved one.

Manage Your Feelings

During this time, you may feel anxious, impatient, guilt and many other feelings. Here are some tips on dealing with feelings that may help you on your journey.

Feeling

Examples

How to deal with it

Worried or anxious

What is going to happen? What if it’s painful? What if something goes wrong?

Accept these feelings. It is okay to feel worried or to be anxious about things. Try to go ahead with everyday life. Worry is normal.

Denial

Maybe the doctors are wrong. This cannot be happening.

Express your feelings to a loved one or close friend. Just talking it out could help you to deal with the situation.

Bargaining

Maybe if I pray every day, she will get better.

Explore your feelings. Think about how you feel and why you are trying to change things. If you feel any regrets, express them and try to let go of them.

Impatience

I wish his suffering will end quickly.

Enjoy the moments you have with your loved one, and focus on the present moment.

Guilt

What if it is all my fault? I should have forced her to go for treatment earlier.

It is okay to cry, or even laugh. Whatever you are feeling is acceptable. Talk to someone about your feelings.

Loneliness

My dad is my best friend. What will I do without him?

Talk about your good times together and share the memories you want to cherish. Communicate with your loved one.

Emptiness

I do not know what to feel. I feel nothing. Maybe I am cold-hearted.

Say to your departing one what is in your heart. It will help you to come to terms with the situation.

Self-pity

Life is so unfair. Everyone is happy but me.

Pray or meditate, or simply have a chat with a close friend or family member.

Get Help and Support

However, if your emotions do not improve over time, speak to professionals such as social workers, counsellors or doctors.

Here are some support groups you can contact: