Donna Hurley of Fresno is a senior care manager and advocate for quality senior living in long-term care facilities. In the following article, Donna Hurley discusses end-of-life care for seniors, and how caregivers can provide dignity and comfort at this significant moment in a patient’s life.
The quality of end-of-life care for senior citizens in retirement or assisted living facilities is incredibly significant, and yet is a fairly neglected field of study.
Employees in senior living facilities can improve end-of-life care in two main ways: promoting dignity and ensuring comfort. Maintaining a senior’s dignity can be accomplished by talking directly to them and asking their opinions on their care, protecting their privacy, and assisting with personal grooming. Comfort in the final stages of life can be provided by facility employees in several areas: physical comfort, emotional support, and spiritual needs.
Below, Donna Hurley of Fresno explores how these improvements can promote high-quality end-of-life care and the manner in which they can be accomplished.
Improving Dignity at the End of Life
Dying with dignity should be a basic human right, but many seniors in care facilities are not receiving the level of attention or respect that is needed. To improve this aspect of care, employees should be talking to patient with respect, considering their opinions on their care, protecting their physical and personal privacy, and aiding in personal grooming.
Talk Directly to the Individual and Ask for Their Input
Donna Hurley of Fresno explains that when seniors are ill and nearing the end of their life, it is not uncommon for facility employees to begin addressing their family members before the senior or not including the individual in discussions about their own care. Talking directly to the senior in words they can understand, asking them how they would like to live out their days, and answering the patient’s questions honestly is crucial for their sense of dignity.
Protect the Senior’s Privacy
A major component of dignity is privacy, and it should always be protected. Personal information about a patient’s health conditions or prognosis should never be shared unless it is necessary for treatment. Similarly, Donna Hurley of Fresno says that when providing physical care in the form of bathing or changing, the senior should remain covered as much as possible.
Help with Personal Grooming
Personal hygiene and appearance have a significant effect on how a senior views themselves. Even at the end of their life, taking pride in their appearance is still important.
Donna Hurley of Fresno reports that caregivers in facilities can help seniors retain their dignity in this area by helping them dress, trimming their whiskers and facial hair, and brushing their teeth and hair if they can no longer perform these tasks by themselves.
Improving Comfort at the End of Life
Donna Hurley of Fresno explains that an elderly person’s comfort during the final stage of life is influenced by a number of factors, including physical discomforts, emotional distress, and the need for religious or spiritual assistance. Employees in care facilities can do a lot to improve the comfort of patients in each of these areas.
Alleviate Physical Symptoms
Almost every senior citizen who is nearing the end of life will be affected by at least one illness, if not multiple. Physical discomfort can present as pain, digestive issues, fatigue, skin irritation, and more serious conditions such as labored breathing or heart arrhythmias.
In these circumstances, Donna Hurley of Fresno explains that caregivers should do all they can to alleviate these symptoms. This may take the form of providing painkillers, setting up a humidifier, wetting the lips and mouth, applying moisturizers or petroleum jelly to irritated skin, simplifying mobility tasks with stools or chairs, and more.
Provide Emotional Support
Emotional and mental distress can affect a senior’s comfort as well. Feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety, and fear are all incredibly common. To help combat these issues, Donna Hurley of Fresno says that caregivers can consult a physician for drug therapy, provide a counsellor to the patient, and encourage family and friends to frequently visit.
The presence of facility staff can also make a big difference for the patient. Holding their hand, playing soft music, talking to them, reading aloud, and providing any creature comforts the patient would like to have can all be helpful ways to provide emotional and mental support.
Consider Their Religious and Spiritual Needs
For many seniors nearing the end of their life, their religious or spiritual needs may be even more important than their physical discomforts. Providing religious texts or a member of their religious community can be very comforting at this time according to Donna Hurley of Fresno.
In a spiritual sense, seniors may wish to resolve disagreements, hear from family and friends how the relationship has benefited them, or find meaning in their life. They may also need to know that their loved ones will be okay and will look out for each other and tie up any loose ends in their life.
Caregivers in facilities should always provide patients with opportunity to do these things so they can pass away at peace.
Every human being deserves to die with dignity and comfort. The necessity of improving the quality of care for seniors in living facilities during this transition is undeniable.
By providing them with access to palliative care, pain management, and emotional support, we can ensure that they are able to pass away peacefully and without unnecessary suffering. Let us remember that our elderly loved ones deserve nothing less than the dignity and care that they have earned through a lifetime of hard work and contribution to society.