Caring for someone with Covid-19 can take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health. There’s this anxiety that you and your other loved ones visiting and taking care of your patient can get sick. There’s also this nagging fear of losing your loved one from the virus. They may not be experiencing extreme symptoms. But knowing how dangerous having Covid-19 is, it is enough to cause the strongest person to have a mental breakdown.
But the question is, what if that loved one also happens to have a terminal illness? What if your loved one’s wish is for them to just go home? This is exactly what happened to the family of Dorothy “Poogie” Wyatt Shields.
Terminally Ill With the Virus
Dorothy was an 84-year-old woman who has Parkinson’s disease. In mid-March, she got tested for Covid-19 after she experienced fever. While self-isolating and waiting for her result, she was taken to the hospital after she ended up having a broken hip.
In the UVA Health System University Hospital, she received news that she indeed has the virus. Her physician told her family that the virus was not killing her. Her main concern was her broken hip.
Surgery is possible. But Dorothy already suffered a loss of independence due to her progressive condition. Recovering from the surgery and not being able to see her family due to Covid-19 restrictions can take a further toll on her health.
Dorothy knows how grave her situation is. She just wanted to go home. Her children decided to pursue hospice care at home despite the risks.
Fulfilling a Dying Mother’s Wish
Her children gathered the necessary equipment and created a sterile solarium out of one of her children, Julia’s home. Julia’s kids and husband move to a friend’s house who she and one of her sisters moved in to care for Dorothy.
Dorothy arrived home on March 25. Julia and her sister would gear up like hospital employees when entering Dorothy’s room. When other family members came to visit, they would hang out on the deck and use an iPad to talk to Dorothy.
Eventually, Dorothy started showing signs of deterioration. On March 28, she died in peace. Her children bravely fulfilled her dying wish and fortunately, none of them tested positive for the virus.
Caring for a Terminally Ill Loved One With Covid-19
It is never easy to decide to care for a terminally ill patient at home. This becomes an even more complicated task if they were diagnosed with the virus.
You must know all the risks involved before bring home your loved one. You need to make sure you have the guidance of their physician and hospice care provider to make sure you don’t miss anything. Aside from these, you also need to consider how you will stay on top of your mental health.
To help you go through these challenging times, here are some tips on how to care for your mental health.
Practice a Healthy Daily Routine
You need to make sure you eat healthy meals, find time to exercise and get enough sleep. Shower, get dressed, stay hydrated and try to do your hobbies during your free time. Remember that your mental health also depends on your physical health.
Get Yourself a Solid Support System
It is important to have people you can get support from. You need to have someone you can connect with, share your fears and will listen to what you have to say without judgment.
It also pays to have someone else other than you watch over your loved one. This will help you have a little more time for self-care. You can avoid burn out knowing you can trust someone to take over whenever you need to step out for a bit of fresh air.
Whenever you feel like no one can be a great support, you can always turn to the experts. A professional can help you find ways to vent and let your frustrations out without hurting anyone or yourself. There is no need to let the stress take over you when there are lots of people willing to give you love and support.
Say No to Vices
It is easy to feel negative feelings during these trying times. This makes it easier to indulge in negative vices, like smoking, drinking and drugs. Whenever you feel like reaching out for another cigarette, your favorite alcoholic drink, or prescription medication, think about how your loved one would feel if they find out you are ruining your life and health.
Caring for a dying loved one with Covid-19 won’t be easy, but you can make them feel comfortable during their last days or months. Offer help, find closure and be ready to hear them out. And in the process, don’t neglect to your physical and mental health.