The Expectations of a Hospice Caregiver

“This should be easy!”

A loved-one is entering into a Hospice program and you are taking on the role of becoming their primary caregiver. That’s the person responsible for the home care of a terminally ill patient. You are thinking, this won’t be that hard, my father can still walk to the bathroom, dress himself and take his own medications! After two weeks, you learn your father can do all those things but he has to be reminded constantly, as his short-term memory is almost gone.

“I have a great network of friends and neighbors!”

It’s now two weeks since your father has come to live with you. You are starting to notice that visits from friends and neighbors have become few and are usually little more than drive-byes. Then there is the other extreme, a friend wants to help and comes by way too much and spends too much time at the house to “sit with you”. You feel terrible but after a while you say no. When she visits you can’t get anything done! There is the wash, dusting, sweeping and the list seems endless and she just wants to sit and talk.

“We have a big family that can lend a hand!”

You were magnanimous to step forward and take this primary caregiving thing on. A month has passed and it seems like your brothers and sisters have scattered like a clutch of kittens. Herding them back to their “secondary” caregiving duties is much like getting those kittens back into a basket.

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
                            ― Alexander Pope

While Mr. Pope was known for his satire he wasn’t kidding around when it came to the quote above. Seriously, you may never have any of these problems as a primary caregiver, and then again, chances are good you might have to deal with a challenge or two. Don’t worry about it. Your Hospice of CNY team has seen it all before and can offer solutions and make recommendations to make things go a little easier. However, Mr. Pope’s advice is still very sound for just about anything you take on. Think how pleasantly surprised you will be when family is there when you really need them, how friends can offer support and respite, and when dad remembers to wear his pants!