Distinguishing Between Symptoms and Side Effects During Terminal Illness

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Coping with the death of a family member

Allow Yourself to Grieve

One of the most important things you can do when faced with the death of a loved one is to allow yourself to grieve. You may experience shock, anger, sadness, and can even feel lost or helpless. This is normal, but it is necessary to express these feelings because keeping them in will only lessen your ability to cope.

Talk to your family and friends about what you are feeling. It is likely that they are feeling the same emotions as you and talking about it will help you cope and find closure. Talking about your loved one after their death is also a great way to honor their memory and help you appreciate the moments you had with them. There are other ways to honor them as well, including donating to their favorite charities, planting a tree in their memory, or spending time with family to share stories and reminisce with photos of fun times. These kinds of activities, while they may seem difficult, will help you find closure and acceptance.

When you experience the death of a family member, you will be filled with many emotions and may also be required to do things like make funeral arrangements or work with their estate planners to carry out their final will. During this time, it is imperative that you take care of yourself and not neglect your needs – eat well, get plenty of rest, and try to continue doing the things that bring you joy. Whether this is exercise or spending time with friends, this will help you cope and keep a level head while dealing with other responsibilities.


Most older adults, as well as people facing serious illness, are using specific medication to treat their illness, manage their symptoms, and address any other chronic health issues. With many different things affecting their loved one’s health, many caregivers often ask about the difference between side effects from medication and symptoms of illness. 

Understanding the difference between symptoms vs side effects can be extremely important. It ensures that your loved one receives the best care. Keep reading to learn more about symptoms and side effects.

Understanding Symptoms vs Side Effects

When someone is undergoing a very serious or terminal illness, it can often be difficult for them to tell the difference between genuine symptoms of their illness and side effects from the medication they are currently taking. Family caregivers need to ensure that they don’t make any changes to the medications on their own accord.

Instead, they should bring any health concerns to their loved one’s team to discuss a plan moving forward. Healthcare professionals and hospice care providers should always take all family concerns seriously. They should pay particular attention to changes in the patient, including:

While each patient is different, these are some of the most common changes. In some cases, their medication may need to be adjusted. In others, additional education about end-of-life signs and symptoms can allow family caregivers to better understand what changes they should expect within the coming days.

A Partnership in Care

Good communication between patients, home hospices, healthcare providers, and families is absolutely crucial to good care. For patients who have been diagnosed with a serious illness, palliative care benefits include nurse practitioner visits within the patient’s home in order to manage symptoms and address any side effects. 

For patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, hospice care partners with the patient’s family by providing emotional, physical, and spiritual care. In addition to caring for the patient, the hospice team is also able to provide support and care for the family. When a family caregiver has questions about the difference between side effects of medication and symptoms, the hospice care team can provide education and information.

To learn more about the palliative care benefits we offer here at Westlake Village Hospice Inc, get in touch with us today!

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Westlake Village Hospice, Inc provides home hospice care for patients in Los Angeles, Arleta, Calabasas, Canoga Park, Burbank, Chatsworth, Encino, Glendale, Glenoaks, Granada HIlls, Hansen Hills, Hidden Hills, La Crescenta, Lake Balboa, Lake View Terrace, MIssion Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Porter Ranch, Reseda, San Fernando, Shadow Hills, Sherman Oaks, Sun Valley, Sunland, Studio City, Sylmar, Tarzana, Thousand Oaks, Toluca Lake, Toluca Terrace, Tujunga, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, Vergudo, West Hills, West Toluca Lake, Winnetka, Woodland Hills, Ventura County, Antelope Valley, and the San Fernando Valley.
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