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How Hospice Helps Caregivers

Updated on February 22, 2013

Caregiver Support from Hospice

Receiving a prescription for hospice can be frightening for a caregiver. While dying at home sounds wonderful, it is very challenging and at times overwhelming. Most caregivers are placed in this role due to their love or strong attachment to a dying loved one. Caregivers want and will try to do whatever is required to make their loved one comfortable. These tasks come at a great personal cost for the caregiver in terms of physical, emotional and mental energy. Hospice can help a caregiver manage the tasks of caring for the dying and also provide emotional support during this time.

Hospice Educates the Caregiver

Caring for a loved one 24 hours per day can be frightening. Caregivers wonder if they know enough to give the correct medications, to prevent falls in the bathroom, to use medical equipment and so forth. It can also be scary to wonder how and when death will occur.

One of the things I have always enjoyed about hospice care is the education of the caregiver. Hospice teaches the caregiver how to use the "nurse on call" system, how and when to give medications, what signs to watch for that could indicate problems or the need for another nursing visit. Hospice teaches the caregiver how to use all medical equipment safely and how to perform basic tasks easily and with confidence.

By receiving this education with consistent reinforcement from the hospice each day and week, caregivers become confident and more sure of themselves. Their stress level is minimized. Fear of the unknown is eased by knowing that help is a phone call away.


Hospice Helps with Bathing and Dressing

Of all of the tasks of caregiving, bathing and dressing are the most physically exhausting. Whether the bath is provided in the normal shower using a shower bench or in the bed this task requires bending, stooping, physically supporting and maneuvering the patient. Once clean, the patient must be dressed for the day. When mobility is limited it is difficult to help another person dress.

Thankfully, hospice can help with the services of a home health aide. The home health aide is a master of bathing and dressing and supports the caregiver by performing this task. Home health aide services are supervised by a nurse and can be scheduled several times per week to maintain personal hygiene.

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Hospice Manages Medications

Managing daily medications and dosages can be frightening for a caregiver. Then, when changes to medications are made, a caregiver can feel confused. If medications are given different ways (by mouth, under the tongue, on the skin, injection, IV) a caregiver can easily become overwhelmed.

Once hospice care begins, hospice nurses take over management of medications. The nurses take time to educate and train the caregiver on how to administer all medications. Hospice nurses will make sure that a caregiver is adequately trained to safely administer whatever medications are required.

Hospice nurses will fill the medication box (pill box) weekly. They order medication refills and even pick up refill medications or new prescriptions from the pharmacy. The hospice nurse works closely with the patient and doctor when new medications are needed to provide pain or other symptom management.

The hospice chaplain supports the patient and the caregiver.
The hospice chaplain supports the patient and the caregiver. | Source

Hospice Supports with Companionship

Caregivers can often feel isolated and alone. Hospice is a unique profession in that care is provided for the patient, family and the caregiver. Because the task of caregiving can occupy the majority of their time, caregivers tend to stop participating in activities they previously enjoyed outside of the home or with friends. While this is natural, it can also lead to caregiver burnout.

The hospice care team brings many caring professionals to caregivers. This provides relief in many different ways. Caregivers are able to express thoughts and feelings in a safe environment. Hospice volunteers can help caregivers have a few hours of time out of the home for a change of pace. The hospice chaplain can tend to spiritual needs for both the patient and caregiver. The social worker can provide grief counseling for the caregiver and also assist with finding additional at home care resources.

What develops over time with hospice care are very deep and intimate personal relationships among hospice patients, caregivers and the hospice team. At the end of life new relationships are formed that are transformational to all involved. Through these relationships caregivers are mentally and emotionally supported.

Hospice Helps Financially

Medications, medical equipment, nutritional supplements and medical supplies are expensive. All of these are provided through the hospice at little or no cost to the patient or family. I have often referred to these items as the "dollars and cents benefits of hospice."

Being a caregiver often means lost work time and a loss of income. Any financial assistance that is offered should be taken during this time. Hospice provides a wealth of support to the patient and caregiver - physically, emotionally and financially.


Caregiver support is lovingly and abundantly provided by hospices. There is no need for a caregiver to go it alone. Contact your local hospice for more information about how hospice can help.


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    • kansasyarn profile image

      Teresa Sanderson 4 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Thanks so much for your kind comments. Advancing end of life care is my passion. I agree that it is difficult subject matter. But the more we talk about it, the more we will reduce the taboo.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      I think all your hospice hubs are excellent. I can not say enough great things about hospice. BRAVO on taking on a subject matter most will turn away from.

    • kansasyarn profile image

      Teresa Sanderson 4 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! Have a blessed day!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Such an interesting read and thank you for sharing. I wish you a wonderful day and I look forward to so many more by you.


    • kansasyarn profile image

      Teresa Sanderson 4 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! I am hopeful that many will benefit from the message. :-)

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image

      Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      I love not only the points you have addressed in this Hub but the tactful and caring way you have legitimately put your very valid points across. My mother is the eldest of four children; one of her three younger brothers has long since departed this world, the other two are in not quite hospices but care homes. The eldest of the two in particular is completely incapable of communicating due to several strokes and has been in the home since 1996. He never married and has no children so my Mum is his salvation. She visits him 3 times a week and is so appreciative of the care he receives from the wonderful staff. She's an old lady herself and couldn't possibly care for him for a day, never mind on a permanent basis. He does, however, seem to interact to some extent with others in the home which is something he wouldn't get elsewhere.

      Funding is different here in Great Britain, I know that, as my uncle's care is fully funded by the National Health Service and his assorted social security entitlements but I hope anyone reading your wonderful Hub may realise the need to take out insurance for such possible if horrific eventualities.