30.3.2 Support for the caregivers
Caregivers in the family frequently feel anxious or depressed, or have problems with sleeping, as the person they care for comes closer to the end of life. You can encourage caregivers to share their feelings with you by asking questions about their perception of the patient’s illness and its impact on their life. Mild psychological distress (mental suffering caused by grief, anxiety or unhappiness) is usually relieved by emotional support from health workers who have effective communication skills. By explaining the patient’s physical and psychological symptoms, and challenging false beliefs about death and dying, you can bring a reasonable hope to caregivers and to the patient, and reduce the sense of isolation they may feel. Empower the family to provide care by explaining that as human beings, we know how to care for each other. Reassure them that they already have much of the capacity needed, and that you can give them more information and support their skills.