The end of your elderly family member’s life can feel particularly unsettling, both for her and for you. There is a lot more that you can do to help her to feel safe, comfortable, and dignified at the end of her life, even when some highly undignified situations might be dominating her life.
Keep Your Senior Involved in Conversations
Very often, especially at the end of life, family caregivers and family members might talk around the person receiving care. This can feel dehumanizing for your senior, which is not a helpful feeling when you’re trying to maintain her dignity. Talk to your elderly family member directly and keep her involved in conversations, particularly ones that involve her own care.
Ask Before Just Doing
Something else to remember is that it’s always going to be important to ask your senior for permission in order to perform hands-on care. If you need to change a dressing or help her to bathe, ask her if that’s okay first. These are things that absolutely need to be done, but how you approach your senior about doing them really does matter. When you ask, wait for a response. This is important even if your senior is nonverbal. Ask her at the time to give you an affirmative response by blinking or by squeezing your hand.
Maintain Your Senior’s Privacy
Your senior’s privacy, especially her physical privacy is also crucial. If the door is closed, make sure that you knock gently and wait for a response before opening the door. When you’re helping her to bathe, make sure that any parts of her body that aren’t being washed remain covered. These simple steps help your senior to feel safer and more comfortable, which is all part of helping her to maintain her dignity.
Help to Create an Atmosphere That Is Peaceful and Respectful
At the end of your senior’s life, you want the atmosphere around her to be as peaceful and full of respect as possible. This is going to contribute to a calmer setting for your senior and for everyone around her. If you’re not sure what you might be able to do to help make the surroundings more peaceful for your senior, start with limiting loud noises and bright lights. From there, ask her what else would help.
One of the many things that end-of-life care providers can do for you and your senior is to help you to find ways to preserve her dignity and to make the end of her life as comfortable and peaceful as possible.