terminal illness

Home Care: Supporting an Older Family Member With Terminal Illness

If you have a loved one enduring a terminal illness, you muster up the strength to fight for their survival despite knowing the slim chances. For your family, who is at the forefront of the battle, though, having been subjected to these mechanical means of keeping them alive could be unbearably exhausting. They would rather dislodge themselves off these many life-saving machines and wean themselves off the countless medications that, if anything, only suck any vigor they have left to live.

It would be hard to accept, but if medical treatments prove to be torturous rather than healing, you need to concede to their request. It will take time for you to come to terms with the imminent parting, more so that the days you are left to count are shorter. However, if it’s to give them at least the utmost comfort and momentary enjoyment, you will realize that granting their request was the best choice you had.

Just before you facilitate their discharge from the medical facility, you want to set up the place they are going home to for the last time. You want it to be still conducive for providing them with minimum medical attention while also being a peaceful and welcoming accommodation. Here are just some tips to help you with your preparation:


If you have the financial capacity, invest in a hospital bed or a similar one with inclining, height adjustment, and swivel features. Given their limited mobility, you want your family to be the most comfortable when lying down, sitting, eating, or expelling bodily waste. Have several pillows in handy because you need to replace them frequently for hygienic purposes.

If they are no longer ambulatory to take their business to the toilet, a turnover pillow and a fresh disposable changing pad for the bed will be your best companions when you need to change their diapers.

Prolonged duration in a supine position may lead to poor blood circulation in their body, thus their higher tendency to develop bedsores around the bum and back areas. You can apply skin barrier-protective ointments as a preventive measure. However, before doing so, make sure to cleanse these prone areas using a gently-formulated wet wipe or a warmly damp washcloth.


Dedicate the best room in the house for your elderly loved one. If possible, the room should have a big window to allow sunlight in. To help purify the air in the room, place potted plants by the window.

Breathing could prove to be labor-intensive, especially for those terminally ill. And so, you want to ensure that the room’s air isn’t super dry that it will hurt to inhale. To counter dry air, you can plug in a humidifier unit on your loved one’s bedside. Some models come with an inlet for essential oils so that you can infuse aroma therapeutic scents into the air and promote relaxation.

The room should contain everything your loved one may need at any minute. You can place a drawer or a shelf with several levels and post labels so that you can conveniently access essential things like medicines, gadgets, clothes, and monitoring devices.



Consider hiring a caregiver if you feel like the nursing tasks will be overwhelming to do alone. An experienced one knows best how to feed patients with utmost caution and groom them when needed. You can rely on one, too, for changing soiled clothes and linen. For too-tough stains on the bed, you can have the upholstery expertly cleaned later.

You can have them assist you only during the day when you are more likely to be occupied attending to your family and other responsibilities. Or, hire them to monitor and cater to your parent during the night.


In case your loved one feels the urge to move around, have a wheelchair on standby. Make sure to dress them in clothes that provide adequate coverage, especially in areas that get easily cold, like their ears, shoulders, and feet. Place lumbar support pillows on the wheelchair’s seat or, better, strap on a back brace from trusted stores like Elite Medical Supply so that they won’t be in pain after sitting too long.

Again, a caregiver or another relative will be of great help when moving your sick family member from the wheelchair to the car or a chair in another place. Take them on one of their last strolls in nature parks, the mall, or even just around the neighborhood. Do not rush them in any way as they relish the sights and sounds surrounding them.

Final Thoughts

With so many bad connotations attached to terminal illness, we are reminded that life is too short not to spend its final moments doing things we would instead do. When fighting for one’s life feels more like a losing battle, it’s sometimes best to allow nature to take its course.

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