| WHEN THE PATIENT’S HEALTH FAILS
This may happen sometimes and it is no fault of yours.
However, illness does not necessarily mean that the person you are caring for is heading
for the worst. Sometimes, it could be due to your loved one’s weakened immune system
and they may recover with time.
But be prepared that failing health could be a sign of more serious problems.
It may be better to discuss these details when you and your family are in a clearer and
calmer state of mind; rather than try to figure out what to do when the situation actually
CAN I CONTINUE TO BE A CARER?
If you can carry on with your role, do so.
- Can you still care for your friend or relative in their worsening condition?
- Do they require closer supervision than you can possibly give?
You may need to start considering additional support or
equipment as your workload and responsibilities increase. You
need to also consider how the added burden will further impact
your physical and mental health.
For instance, you may also wish to contact occupational
therapists for equipment or specialist staff if your loved one is
suffering from hearing or sight loss or physical handicaps. If
you really feel that the patient’s failing health is beyond you,
there are other options.
Beyond this, there is also your loved one to consider. Inquire
gently if they would feel comfortable to be shifted or use an
additional support system. Instead of being very thick-headed
on the decisions we are making on their behalf, it will help more
if the agreement on all decisions are unison. But of course, if
your loved one is hospitalised with breathing support, then it is
necessary to make the decisions yourself. Approach the doctors,
they would be able to counsel you on the best alternatives.
A live-in maid can be hired to help attend to your loved one’s
personal care such as washing, feeding, toileting, household
chores and so on. Or you can get a maid to come in daily.
If you need more specialised assistance, your medical team
may be able to provide recommendations. This includes retired
nurses who would be able to come in a few days a week or as
often as needed.
When you begin caring, you and your loved one may cope
well and may not choose a nursing or care home as an option.
However, with failing health, moving to a home may be the
best and only option for both of you.
Discuss it openly so that all parties are accepting of any outcome.
When choosing a home, you should consider:
- Whether they have trained staff to care for cancer-afflicted or sick residents.
- Location – ensure the place is near your loved one’s hospital and close enough for visits.
- Capacity – Choose a home which is not fully occupied so there is sufficient space and staff are not too busy caring for many residents.
- Social Factor – Sufficient social stimulation and activity will ensure your loved one is not bored or becomes depressed.
- Financial cost – The cost of having your relative with you against having them stay at a home
- Emotions – Feelings of guilt and separation from a family member or close friend.
- Lack of privacy and independence, but more social company for your dear one.
A hospice is designed to provide care and comfort for patients
who are very ill, especially reaching the end of their life. Hospice
treatment can be provided in a hospital, a special facility or at
The support offered comes in the form of medical treatment as
well as counselling for family members and the patient. Hospice
staffs are specially trained to work with people with cancer and
In Malaysia, you can contact Hospis Malaysia for more
information and assistance on hospice care. Please refer to the
list of resources at the back of this booklet for their contact