It is always important to think about how you want information to be shared with your loved one, yourself, and other family (as you define “family”) and friends.  For example, do you want the doctor to talk about your loved one’s condition with both of you in the same room, or would you want the conversation to be held in another place?  Who do you want to be with you for those conversations, if anyone?  How are decisions made for and with your loved one and how are they shared with your medical team?  Is daily bathing important as part of your belief system?   Does your loved one have food preferences or restrictions? Be sure to talk openly and clearly with your medical team about what is important to you and your loved one so they have the best information to care for your loved one according to your wishes.


The room in which your loved one is being cared for is also an important thing to consider.  How do you want it to be?  Is it important that it to be as peaceful and calm as possible within the medical care your loved one is being provided?  Is quiet important, or would your loved on prefer music and their loved ones around them? Are there times when you would prefer privacy for prayers or other ritual? Letting the health care team know your preferences and needs will lead to talking about what is possible within the medical care that your loved one needs while respecting your wishes for the room.

Rituals and Symbols

It can often be important for persons and family caregivers to have rituals from their religious or cultural tradition to be provided for their loved ones.  This is another thing to talk with your medical care team about.  You may want to have a priest and others from your faith community come to offer prayers and chants; the health care team can assist in coordinating the best time to do this.  Many persons also want certain symbols of healing or that represent their spiritual beliefs to be present with their loved one.  If you have objects that are important, such as pictures, fresh flowers, prayer beads or other items,tell your health team so that they can be placed in a respectful place and their importance understood. If there are symbols or objects that you would like your loved one to wear, be sure your health team knows about them because it can usually be arranged for that to occur even while your loved one is receiving medical care.


The health care setting where your loved one is will usually have a chaplain on their staff that can help you in ensuring that your cultural and religious beliefs are honored and accommodated.  Professional chaplains are trained to care for all persons, and do not impose their beliefs on patients or families.   They can also help you in notifying your religious community if you need assistance.