Support for People with Cancer
Tips and Ideas for angeling an end-stage buddy Pt 2
(Section specific to children toward the bottom)
My Grandma was in hospice. My mom got her a nice blanket for her bed as the bedding seemed old. She had the TV on for noise but some serene music might be nice. A note to her family would also be comforting.
I am currently working as a student social worker at Hospice and I know that a lot of my patients enjoy books on tape because they are unable to concentrate enough to read themselves. Also, just keep on writing! Just knowing someone is out there who cares is often enough to keep a smile on their face, especially if they don't have a lot of family/friends around everyday.
Being an Angel as well as a hospice nurse, some things that might be appreciated are lip moisturizers, lotion (moisturizing), some soft uplifting music, a comfy blanket.
DON'T CHANGE A THING THAT YOU HAVE BEEN DOING....your patient will know right away and sense the sadness you feel ....Keep up your great Angeling!
My former buddy loved cards with bright pictures on them to hang on her walls, I even cut bright pictures; flowers and gardens; out of magazines, and sent them to her also.
I felt inclined to also say something about Hospice HOME Care. Hospice care does not mean that a person will pass on tomorrow - it just means that they have chosen to discontinue treatments or it has been deemed that the condition they are diagnosed with cannot be cured no matter what drugs can be given. My husband chose to have no more treatments in January but he did not die until June. The treatments were making him so sick that he chose to just enjoy quality life for what he had left. My suggestion to you would to be continue to Angel your buddy just as you always have, and KNOW that each and every card will be read to your buddy - if they are no longer able.
Send some CDs. Something comforting. There is a lot of great music out there. Try Jim Brickman, classical. What about the 3 tenors? Or a warm blanket. A lap blanket. That is VERY COMFORTING!!!!!!
I loved being a ChemoAngel to my patient. Her chemo stopped working and later she went into Hospice care. I continued to send weekly gifts to her (fun socks to keep her feet warm, a pretty throw blanket, nice body lotion with a light fresh scent, inspirational things to read or to have someone read to her, a soothing music CD, lots of cards and letters, etc. I also sent small gifts to her children/family as I figured that they needed love and support too. A gift card for the family to enjoy a nice take out dinner at home is a practical and helpful gift idea too. With taking care of their loved one, the last thing they may have the time or energy for is to cook
If your buddy is Christian, I would suggest tapes or CD's of a religious nature with encouraging biblical truths of the promise of "life to come." Soft and beautiful music from her youth for memories, a beautiful picture frame to put beside her bed for loved ones photos. She might enjoy any uplifting poems and stories either in books (If she is able to read) or tapes or CDs. There is a series of books I found for my husband when he was terminally ill with cancer, Called (I think) Holy Humor. He really enjoyed reading them and laughed often over the stories. Other things might include a pretty pillow to hug, snugly slipper socks and maybe a favorite snack to nibble on. My Husband didn't eat "meals" at this stage but would nibble on snacks I left by his bedside.
I volunteered in hospice for awhile. Anything to pass the time and cheer them up is good - their favorite candy, a good book or movie to watch, a book of puzzles, etc. An extra comfy nighty or soft pair of slippers is nice, too. One thing that I think is important is preserving memories for family. Often, you can find books or journals that enable people to write special memories or events for their descendants, such as their feelings, last words, and family history information. (births, deaths, weddings, etc.) They may really enjoy writing this memoir to their family, and the families always appreciate such a loving gift, as well.
A nice picture frame that she could put a family photo in would be a pleasant thing for her to have near her. A silk flower arrangement would be nice, too. If you are creative, JoAnn's had some silk flowers on sale, so you might check that out.
How about finding her a pretty pillow case and include a note that you want her to have restful thoughts. Or a nice fluffy bath towel for her to enjoy after her bath. Some nice lotions for her elbows and heels would be good if she is confined to bed. You could buy a preprinted panel of fleece to send her for a lap robe, check at fabric stores. A box of herbal teas. A bottle of honey and a nice teaspoon and mug would be nice in different gifts. A small bell for her bedside if she needs to call for help would be good too.
I was blessed to be able to take leave from work and go and stay with my Mom at home during her last couple months so she didn't have to actually enter a Hospice - they just visited her at home - but I can tell you that my mother really looked forward to the mail each day and hearing from her card angel and chemo angel - the gift was not important it was just the fact that two wonderful people she had never met cared about her and loved her enough to take time to share their lives with her - she saved every card and letter - she really grew to love them like family and the joy their letters brought into her life was the most important thing and also what inspired me to become a part of this wonderful
organization - so I would encourage you to just keep sending the cards and letters expressing your love and caring - I believe it's that special human touch that matters most.
Perhaps your buddy entering hospice would enjoy books on tape/cd to listen to. It might be nice for her to have some pampering her last days - a manicure set and some nice polishes? Maybe a beautiful frame that she could keep a photo of her family in by her bedside. You could send a nice plant, one that a member of her family could plant in their garden when she is no longer with them.
If your buddy believes in God, you could send her a really nice Bible. That is what I bought my mom in her last days and she LOVED it. It brought her great comfort and encouragement. You could also send poems of encouragement and lots of love. You could send a phone card. Someone in her situation might find talking to friends and family helps too.
I am an RN who has worked in critical care and trauma for a number of years. I hope I have something to help you. The thing to remember is that life is precious beyond measure, and it remains precious even outside of time and space. It is still worth celebrating, and every day is a victory. Life becomes even more precious when we fight time to celebrate it. Every happy day, every peaceful moment, becomes more valuable, like finding one precious diamond in a stack of coal. It shines. So do what you have always done. You offer peace and comfort and celebrations, because life goes on. Focus on the joy, on the living.
You can find scripture cards or prayer cards at Christian bookstores that make a nice enclosure to a card. It could be something the parent could hold and meditate on as they sit with the child.
A mobile or wind chimes (even the breeze of someone walking could start them). A strange but comforting gift - lifelike battery-powered puppies & kittens that "breathe" - they actually look like sleeping real pets.
Story books on tape or CD would be a good idea for a young buddy who is only alert for short periods of time. You can find book/tape combos for around $6 at most stores. I've even found them at dollar stores.
-Another nice idea would be soothing children's music. Collin Raye (the country singer) has a wonderful CD for kids called "Counting Sheep". My son is almost 10 and he still listens to it at bedtime.
-How about small toys that your buddy can easily hold in his hand? Look for things with textures like soft, squishy, bumpy, stretchy...things that are stimulating but don't take much effort to play with.
This is also a good time to show extra support for your buddy's family. Prepackaged meals (like Campbell's Supper Bakes) or gift cards for fast food or pizza would be welcomed. When my dad was under hospice care, the last thing I wanted to think about was what to cook for dinner.
How about some colorful window decorations the peel and stick kind, or a colorful swirl mobile thingy or a suncatcher. Something bright and shiny that might lift his spirits while he is awake. You could also make up silly short stories to put into your cards and letters. Use his name and remake a classic like the three little pigs and let his house be the one that can't be blown down, etc. My boys LOVE me to tell storied like that. Also how about a CD or tape with soothing music? I know it must be very hard for you to know that he is at such a difficult time and to want to send the right things, but remember that the most important thing is that they can read your crads and letters to him and that probably means more than anything else ever could. Good Luck and God Bless!
A soft stuffed animal for him to HUG.
Some books on tape/CD so he can listen to them.
Music CD's...of his favorite type of music.
An animated movie DVD which he could watch in segments when he is awake.
My buddy is a 5 year old boy and they were recently told that there is no cure for his cancer. I've sent him an Ikea "hug" pillow (this is a big red pillow with arms/hands) and a poem about hugs. I've sent some American Idol DVDS, play doh and have a Mooshi pillow & fleece blanket to send next week. I've sent small treats for his little brother as well as his mom. (Glade makes a candle called "Angel Whispers"...in the grocery store for about $3)
Don't forget to include the siblings during this time. They are really suffering in their own way watching the decline of their brother or sister.
Stories on tape are great. The dollar tree has multiple kids books on tape for a buck a piece.
Books on tape! Or how about recording a story on a tape yourself and sending him the book. Children are very receptive to voices and I'm sure a child would love hearing your voice.