Preparing for end of life means coming to terms with the fact that death is part of living. How you die may not be something you decide but sometimes where you die is in your control. Hospice services can help.
Hospice Care is a type of health care that serves to relieve pain without treating the cause for the pain. The focus of a hospice team is to provide medical, emotional, and spiritual support to families with a terminal patient – generally in their own home.
Some of the benefits of hospice care are:
- Ability to die at home
- Pain management
- Help with ancillary medical needs
- Provide education
- Offer emotional support
Being able to be at home during the final days of life can be a helpful and comfortable thing for entire families. Being in familiar surroundings with loved ones, pets, and personal belongings can make transitioning easier than being isolated in a sterile and noisy environment like a hospital. Most everyone prefers the idea of being home rather than away when they die.
If you or a loved one has a terminal diagnosis, you are likely a candidate for palliative care and eventually hospice. Your medical provider can help you connect with a hospice team where you will create a plan and set goals for your experience. This may include things like:
- Comfort needs
- Direct care needs
- Choices during transition
- Direct support for emotional and spiritual needs
Hospice isn’t just about direct care when you are actively dying. It begins with a terminal diagnosis. Palliative care – while not considered hospice care – is a form of treating pain and making plans before hospice takes over providing final care. You do not have to be bed ridden to get support. Your medical team will include palliative care as part of your treatment plan.
As things progress your hospice nurse will provide assistance to you and your family to help make things less scary and as comfortable as possible. Knowing someone is there who can help and that you can be at home at such an important time makes such big difference in your peace of mind and comfort during this process. Even after you pass, your hospice support team will help your family contact your mortuary and help ready your remains for your pre-planned funeral process.
By Roz Jones
There comes a time when family roles switch. Traditionally, parents are the leaders of the family and make the decisions and set the tone for how things are done under their roof. As parents age, this can shift if there are medical or other issues at hand.
Sometimes families have to switch up roles and adult children must step in to help parents make end of life decisions. This can be uncomfortable if there hasn’t been much discussion leading up to the role reversal. Still, talking to aging parents about end-of-life matters is always a good thing.
Talking about end-of-life matters preserves dignity- If your parents lived life well, they likely made the best choices they could under the circumstances and deserve to live out their lives in a dignified way. When adults become frail, they appear to be more like toddlers than thriving and vital adults. It’s easy to forget that they were once independent and able to care for their own needs. Talking about end-of-life expectations can help them preserve their dignity by respecting where they want to live, what boundaries they have on their medical care and day-to-day living, and their wishes about their death experience and how their remains and estate are managed.
Talking about end-of-life matters eliminates confusion- The earlier you can speak with aging parents about the legal protections available for themselves and their estate, the easier things will be in their absence. Being open about advance directives, wills, trusts, and other important topics makes things easier for you if you are managing their care or estate. Don’t wait until your aging parent is too frail or ill to engage in a mature conversation to find out what they have taken care of and what vulnerabilities there may be. The sooner the better.
Talking about end-of-life matters brings families together- There’s something about facing mortality that humbles people and helps them keep the main thing the main thing. Talking with your aging parents creates an opportunity to say things that you don’t wan to leave unsaid and to say thank you for all they have done to raise you, love you, and be there for you when you needed them so much. Many people hold onto life because they have regrets or fears. You can help your parents feel peace and love by having important conversations that bring healing and comfort.
Talking to your parents about aging and end-of-life plans isn’t morbid. It’s a mature and necessary part of life. The sooner you can sort out what your parents expect, how they are going to manage their expectations, and what role you will play in the plan, the easier you can be prepared and ready when the time comes.
By Roz Jones
If you’re a fan of any sort of prime-time television, you’ve probably seen a drama based in a hospital. Each day people are flown or driven into emergency rooms with life-threatening issues that leave them unconscious and sometimes near death. Doctors and their support staff are making a lot of life-saving decisions with very little information. Life-saving because that’s what doctors do. Save lives no matter what it takes.
That’s noble and thank goodness they have the skill sets to do what most people can’t – save and prolong life – thanks to their wisdom and modern technology. Watching your favorite television drama, the fictional characters draw you in with the chaos and extreme measures that surround saving lives.
Well, many of the storylines that make up your favorite show are based, in part, on some reality. A writer sometime somewhere knew someone or read about a situation that is similar to the story being played out on the television screen. Accidents and illnesses occur every day in hospitals everywhere. People find themselves in extreme situations needing their lives saved by people they can’t communicate with.
What would happen if you or someone you loved were injured and couldn’t communicate? Mostly, every measure to save or prolong life would be taken. This may or may not include measures that violate religious standards or might be so extreme it would freak you out. What’s more, if you are unable to speak, your family may be put in a position to make decisions for you and not every family is equipped to handle the responsibility.
There are some important questions you should ask yourself before you get sick or hurt. It can help providers serve you better and make things easier for your family. Check these out:
Question: Who do you want to make healthcare decisions on your behalf?
Question: Do you understand the types of treatments used to keep people alive?
Question: What does quality of life mean to you?
Thinking about these questions can help you make important decisions about your health and your health care. There are things you can do to make sure your wishes are known in case you are in an accident or have a chronic or terminal illness.
- Get an advance directive
- Designate a medical decision-maker
- Share your beliefs and intentions
These important steps will make all the difference if or when you need services from emergency or hospital staff. Take the time to decide what your stand is on your medical care and do something to protect yourself and your family.