Caregiving > Resolving Open Issues

Helping to Resolve the Patient’s Unfinished Business

One of the most valuable services a caregiver can provide is helping their loved one achieve a sense of closure on open issues. This may involve doing or seeing something important or pleasant to them one more time, clearing up an old misunderstanding or conflict with a child or other relative or saying something that has remained unsaid. Arranging these experiences may be time consuming for the caregiver, since they may involve contacting other people or arranging long distance travel. It is important to note that the patient’s view of open issues may be different from your own.

Do not have unrealistic expectations if you make plans of this nature. Even with the best of intentions, things may not always go as planned. When it is over, both the patient and caregiver may be disappointed. Before committing to such a major undertaking, ask yourself how you and the person you are caring for will feel if the experience turns out to be less than you might have hoped. If you do not feel it would be worth the time and resources you will expend, you might suggest something that would be less costly or stressful.

Supporting the Patient’s Spiritual Concerns

Spiritual concerns sometimes become especially important when someone is ill. As a caregiver, you can support the patient in thinking about these concerns, even if you don’t share his or her views.

For people who are comfortable with their faith and the answers it provides, your support of that faith will be appreciated. For those who are troubled by uncertainty about a higher power, you can help by sharing your own questions and uncertainties, showing them their concerns are reasonable.

Professional members of the clergy and/or counselors who have experience in dealing with spiritual issues, may be comforting to the person for whom you are caring. Let your loved one know you will be happy to arrange visits by clergy or by others, but that the decision rests with them.

Be available to listen. As a caregiver, listening is one of the most important things you can do to help. Often, speaking with another person who is understanding may put one’s thoughts in perspective.

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