terminally ill senior

Caregiver Roles When Caring for a Terminally Ill Senior

At some time in our lives, we may find ourselves caring for a terminally ill senior. This loved one may be a parent or close relative. Regardless of your family connection, as the caregiver of an elderly and very sick loved one, you will fill many roles that are important to their dignity and quality of life.

Promoter of Well-Being:

The initial role may be that of promoter of their well-being. A loved one’s sense of well-being has an impact on their view of life at this stage, and even toward the primary caregiver. Well-being includes their level of comfort and happiness. While this will be directly affected by the health issues of this stage of life, a caregiver contributes much to a positive or negative sense of well-being. Actively providing all that is possible for their comfort and happiness will forge a necessary bond between the caregiver and the terminally ill senior that will, in turn, help you fulfill other important roles.


In various ways, the primary caregiver becomes basically the primary helper. Someone to bring the newspaper, fix meals, clean the home, assist with bathing or standing, and the like. A patient servant-attitude, and a willingness to please is essential. These small things mean much to someone finding it difficult or impossible to perform even basic tasks for themselves. You may feel like a simple house servant, but this role is a necessary one.

Manager of Rapid Changes:

An important aspect of promoting a terminally ill senior’s well-being is managing rapid changes. Circumstances can propel the loved one from relative independence to complete reliance on a caregiver. These changes are difficult to accept for someone accustomed to self-reliance. Managing those changes well can be perplexing, and will involve educating your loved one about the changes and necessary adaptations for their care.

Terminally Ill elderly

Organizer of Care:

When caring for a terminally ill senior, you will be the primary organizer of the care they need. This can range from meal preparation to medication management to protector and advocate. As their needs change, your flexibility and timely responses will be crucial. Medical care, palliative care, and caring for the home can place stringent demands on the family, especially the caregiver.

Moral and Ethical Decision Maker:

Perhaps the most difficult role of the primary caregiver is that of moral and as an ethical decision maker. Too often, important questions regarding end-of-life scenarios are left unanswered by the terminally ill loved one, and the family is forced to make decisions they would rather not make themselves. At times, the loved one in question cannot be consulted to ascertain their wishes. In those times, the wishes of family and the advice of trained palliative care specialists are invaluable.

Do you think an in-home elderly care specialist might be right for you? Call or contact Caring People Inc. to schedule a free in-home consultation. Qualified homecare specialists will meet with you, assess your unique situation, and match your needs to the right services.