Care at the End of Life
As a person reaches the end of life, there are many decisions to be made regarding care. Whenever possible, it is best to try to think ahead and plan these decisions in advance.
This audio recording will outline the types of care decisions that people may want to address at the end of life. These include:
- What type of medical care a person may wish to receive
- Where the care will be provided (for example, home, hospital, nursing home, etc.)
- The types of legal documents needed to express a person’s wishes for their medical care, and who should make health decisions for them
- The difference between curative treatment and palliative care
- What types of questions to ask a doctor about an illness and treatment
- What’s important to share with a doctor
- How and when to talk to loved ones about end-of-life decisions
- Why it’s important to put wishes in writing
- If you are caring for a loved one who is nearing the end of life, try to learn as much as possible about his or her wishes for care and treatment. Sometimes, these wishes may be different than yours. However, the decision that must be followed is that of the patient.
- As a caregiver, it is especially important that you take good care of yourself at this difficult time. Get enough sleep and exercise, eat nutritious foods and don’t skip meals, and stay in touch with family and friends. If you feel overwhelmed, contact your physician or a support group to get the help you need.
- It may be difficult to know how to care for a person at the end of life. Some helpful things that a caregiver can do at this stage include:
- Spend time with the person. Even if it is just holding his/her hand, watching a movie together, or sitting together – your presence will be a comfort.
- Be a good listener. The person you are caring for may need to express fears, wishes, and concerns – or just talk about life events.
- Assure the person you are caring for that his/her wishes regarding medical care will be followed.
Listen to this audio file to hear more about care at the end of life.