Jessica Freeman cared for her Mum who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In this article, we asked her to share top things she wished she knew when she started as a carer.
Why was it important for you to be able to provide care at the end of life?
It was important for me as I wanted to adhere to my Mum’s wishes, which was to be cared for and die in her own home. I wanted her to be as comfortable as possible. It was also important as a way for my family and I to spend these precious moments together.
The caring journey was challenging but the reward for me was being able to express my love for my Mum by helping her and doing everything necessary to make her comfortable. She was not someone who would ever ask for help or allow me to do this so I was grateful for the opportunity to give back to her after a lifetime of her looking after me!
What were the top things you wish you knew when you began caring?
I wish I knew more about the dying process and what to expect so that I was perhaps better prepared mentally. I also wish I knew how important it was to have the correct equipment in place from the outset. My Mum’s condition deteriorated quite quickly at the end and so we didn’t have time to move her into a more accessible bed or onto a more comfortable mattress.
I wish I knew about bed sores - how quickly they form and how painful they can be. They were the main source of discomfort in my Mum’s last days.
"I wish I knew more about the dying process and what to expect so that I was perhaps better prepared mentally."
What practical pointers can you share with other carers?
I would advise to ensure you can make things as easy as possible for yourself by having in place a suitable bed, mattress, equipment in the bathroom, and others. Self-care is important, so make sure you are looking after yourself foremost - both physically and mentally.
Lastly, ask for help and take a break when you need to.
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