Not all terminally ill patients want to die in the hospital if given a choice. One study by Kaiser Family Foundation shows that about 70 percent prefer to pass surrounded by loved ones at home.
These days, this arrangement is possible. Families can consider home health aids, medications, and pain pumps to make home hospice care a reality. They can also design their space to ensure the patient feels as comfortable as possible.
1. Create a Comfortable, Peaceful Space
Terminally ill patients can significantly benefit from a comfortable, peaceful corner of the house. Often, this is the bedroom, where the patient can relax in bed or sit in a chair. However, family members and professional caregivers can transform any part of the property with these ideas:
- Create a space filled with natural light. If the family members don’t have windows leading to the great outdoors, they can buy large lamps or portable lighting fixtures designed to mimic sunlight. The patient will enjoy spending time here and find it easier to rest in this spot.
- Add a comfy chair or other seating options for visitors, like a futon or low-lying sofa. If the chair has arms, there won’t be any stress of stubbing thumbs and toes when the patient feels too weak to move around.
- Place various books, magazines, and games within easy reach. These can help pass the time during challenging moments.
- Buy large throw pillows and blankets in soothing colors or prints. The patient will find comfort when resting, sleeping, reading, or even just looking around the room. They can also use these items to prop themselves up when needed.
2. Find a Good Spot for the Right Bed
A patient who needs a bed will benefit from a design that makes it easy to get in and out of the space. There are countless hospital beds on the market today, but they all feature adjustable backrests that allow users to sit up or lie flat.
They also have sturdy frames that can support a considerable amount of weight. Plus, they’re covered with ergonomic mattresses and pillows, making it easier for the patient to get comfortable and sleep well.
After finding a bed that provides all of these features, family members should choose a place for it where the patient will feel happy and safe. If possible, they might want to set up this space near windows, lamps, and other natural light sources. A private bathroom is also a welcome addition.
3. Include Disabled-friendly Accessories and Furniture
Even though the patient will likely use a hospital bed, there are still many ways for family members to ensure a disabled-friendly room. They can start by purchasing a rolling walker and adding handles in easy-to-reach locations around the space. A shower or bathtub with an attached handrail is another good addition, as is a ramp leading to the front door.
The family might also want to replace household objects with easier access or move, like cabinets and shelves with drawers instead of shut doors. They can even use levers on faucets instead of knobs, which will make it easier for patients in wheelchairs.
If there’s a dining area in the room, the family can add a table with a built-in lazy Susan and chairs with removable legs. These features will allow users to eat meals comfortably without getting tired or straining.
Healthcare professionals often recommend that patients keep their medications and medical supplies within easy reach throughout the day. Family members should take this advice to heart and design a cabinet or drawer where they can quickly grab essential items, like pain pump batteries.
4. Keep the Atmosphere Happy and Relaxing
Families can do plenty to make patients feel less anxious and stressed by surrounding them with positive images. These could include pictures of family members, loved ones, pets, nature scenes, or anything that brings the patient joy.
If there are any strong smells in the room, family members should try to keep these items far away from the patient. These odors could cause nausea or dizziness and make it harder for them to get through the day.
The family might also want to tune into the patient’s favorite TV shows, movies, and music genres and add DVDs and CDs of their favorite titles to a rotating media rack in the room. These objects will help to keep the patient’s mind off medical procedures and allow them to relax for a little while each day.
When one is near death, the priority shifts to quality of life and comfort regardless of whether the patient chooses to stay in the hospital or go home. If the person picks the latter, families can create a safe and soothing sanctuary that promotes relaxation and provides peace of mind with these ideas.