Bringing home a terminally ill loved one can be an emotionally charged time in both the caregiver’s life and the final days of the patient. Coming home can bring a great deal of peace and comfort to a person looking at the end of their life. Even though you may be working through a dizzying array of emotions, your focus will likely be on your loved one. One of the best ways to make these final weeks more serene — for both of you — is to try to keep the house more of a home than a hospital.
Whether you’re caring for an adult, child or beloved pet, helping someone through their final days at home can be a tremendous task. You’ll have to work to make sure they feel at home among the IV tubes and oxygen tanks, easing them through the end-of-life journey. If you are unsure how to fill this final time with the comforts of home, here are a few ways to find the balance between hospital and home.
When your aging parent, partner or sibling comes home for those final days, you might want to prepare ahead of time. This is especially true if the loved one lived alone and was sick for awhile — you might find you need to have their house cleaned or repairs made before it’s safe to come back. This is of particular importance if there will be any medical equipment or specialized furniture coming into the home. Depending on the level of care needed, you’ll want to make sure you have a plan for keeping the cozy, homey feel while also integrating equipment such as:
- Hospital beds or special mattresses
- Bed pans or portable urinals
- Monitors for vital signs or electrocardiogram equipment
- IVs and IV stands
- Dialysis equipment
- Oxygen equipment
- Catheters or colostomy bags
- Walkers, chair lifts, wheelchairs and other accessories to improve mobility
Once you get the house in order, it’s time to make your terminally ill loved one feel at home, which can be a challenge with a lot of medical equipment around. Here are a few ways to make sure your home doesn’t feel like a hospital:
- Keep the bedside toilet hidden. If your loved one has a portable toilet, you can hide it behind a screen or convert a closet so the bedroom feels less like a hospital room.
- Use decorative baskets and bins to store medical equipment, which will keep everything organized and tidy as well as keep hospital reminders out of sight.
- Use familiar bedding, decorative pillows and appealing throws to cover furniture that looks more hospital- than homelike, like an adjustable bed.
Most people don’t want their house to feel like a nursing home. That’s understandable, so bring a terminally ill adult home to live out their remaining days in the comfort of a place where they feel they belong. You may need to organize the space a little differently to accommodate the medical equipment, but choosing the right decor can camouflage the sterile environment.