Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.
Louisa May Alcott

5 Themes of Caring

five "themes" for caring for someone who is dying and some practical suggestions on how to do carryout those themes. You can think of these themes, taken from a publication of the Colorado Collaboration on End-of-Life Care, as the five R’s for caring: Remember,Recognize, Respect, Reinforce, and Reminisce.

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Introduction to the Dimensions of Care

The four tasks a dying person faces also define the four dimensions of care for the dying person: physical, psychological, social, and spiritual.

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Physical Dimension

Probably the most demanding physical need of a dying person is the control of pain. Physical pain is actually divided into two major categories: acute and chronic.

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Psychological Dimension

For many caregivers, the psychological dimensions of care can be more difficult to deal with than the physical dimensions. In the physical dimensions, there is something that the caregiver can try to do to relieve physical suffering: medications, physical contact, etc.  However, when the sufferingis psychological, i.e., involving feelings such as sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, and other so-called negative feelings, what can a caregiver do to help?

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Social Dimension

This dimension is based on the social tasks and involves two areas: 1) the special relationships the dying person has with other cherished individuals and 2) the dying person’s roles and responsibilities in various communities, such as the family, the workplace, the organizations, etc. he or she is a part of.

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Spiritual Dimension

The spiritual dimension of care is based on the spiritual tasks the dying person faces. As a reminder, these tasks include a search for meaning and for (re-)establishing and maintaining connectedness to oneself, others, and the person’s own perception of the transcendent. It is probably obvious that the spiritual aspect of a person’s life, whether dying or not, is not a stand-alone aspect. It permeates throughout the physical, psychological, and social aspects as well.

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