Planning for end of life is difficult but also necessary. Taking the time to prepare for this stage of life can help you and loved ones with making challenging decisions about your care that may arise in the future.
When planning your end-of-life care it is important to consider what your wishes are and how they should be carried out. Your wishes typically reflect your personal concerns, values or beliefs. A few questions to ponder during this process are:
- How will religious or spiritual beliefs be honored?
- If possible, would you rather last moments to be at your home?
- How do you feel about life-prolonging measures, such as resuscitation, ventilators or life support?
Once you have come up with a plan of care, it is recommended that you write instructions or advance directives in a document to record your end -of-life wishes and provide guidance for loved ones.
Choosing a family member or loved one to be your healthcare proxy is usually the next step in planning your end-of-life care. It is important that you communicate to them your wishes so that they can make desired decisions on your behalf. These requirements should also be shared with your physician or medical team.
If you are unable to designate a person to carry out your wishes, you can give specific instructions by writing a living will. According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH Senior Health), “A living will records your end-of-life care wishes in case you are no longer able to speak for yourself. It spells out what life-sustaining treatment you do or do not want if you are terminally ill, permanently unconscious, or in the final stage of a fatal illness. You may wish to meet with your health care provider before preparing a living will to discuss treatment options for a variety of medical situations.”
To receive further information about planning end –of-life care, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Palliative Care Division recommends utilizing comprehensive resources such as The Conversation Project. The organization provides a starter kit, “as a useful tool to help people have conversations with their family members or other loved ones about their wishes regarding end-of-life care.” For more information, visit www.theconversationproject.org.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.