Everyone’s clock is ticking. Tomorrow might be the day you die, or it can be 80 years from now. Most people prefer not to know when they’ll pass on, but others have been fighting to stay alive. Perhaps the person’s cancer has progressed, and it has gotten to the point that the person has just a matter of weeks to live.
The steps you take for your end of care are very important, but many people do not know the options that they have available to them.
When your health has diminished, it’s time to consider what you’ll do to make your passing go by more smoothly.
What to Expect for Your End of Life Care?
Your time is running out, but that doesn’t mean that you have to die in pain. There are a lot of options available, and this is what palliative care is meant to do. When people are at the end of their lives, they may be suffering from pain and illness that diminishes their quality of life.
Palliative care can provide:
- Quality of life improvements
- Extra layer of support in the form of specialists and nurses
As a patient or someone that is dying, you have the right to understand how much time you have left. You will be able to ask your provider, directly, how much time they believe you have left.
And the provider cannot deny this question.
You have a right to know your prognosis, and you’re able to ask any many questions as you like.
Community Services That May Be Available
Hospice care, provided to people that are at the end of their life, was provided to 1.3 million people on Medicare alone. Every day, people are facing these life-ending decisions, and the community can help.
Hospice occurs when a person is given six months or less to live.
These nurses are in your community, and they’re available to help you live the best last days of your life as possible. Hospice team members will provide patients with:
- Personal care, including bathing and grooming
- Education on the end of life
- Counseling and grief support
- Training to caregivers
- What to do after targeted treatments are something you no longer want to pursue
- Pain and symptoms have become intolerable
- Maximizing your quality of life
Healthcare providers will be able to direct you to hospice agencies, and it’s often better to get a recommendation from one of your providers.
Close Working Relationship with You and Family Members
Hospice nurses will understand your situation, and when a hospice nurse first consults with you and your family, he or she will go over the basics with you. One of the first goals is to identify and source all of the medical equipment and supplies you’ll need for a comfortable life.
These items will include:
- Hospital beds
- Incontinence supplies
- Oxygen tanks
- Mobility devices
- Wet wipes
The list can go on and on, depending on the condition that you’re suffering from. End of life care is meant to provide comfort to you during your last days, and this comfort will also allow you to maintain some of your dignity, too.
When there is equipment that is not provided, you can always ask your hospice nurse what items you may need. The nurse will be able to provide a list of the recommended equipment and supplies, and the nurse may also be able to help you source these items.
Know and Understand Your Rights
You can choose where to die, and most people prefer their homes. Statistically, 54% of people end up dying where they want to die. The breakdown of deaths is roughly:
- 37% at home
- 33% at a nursing home
- 28% in the hospital
- 2% at other locations
Hospice is often chosen while the person is still in relatively good health, but conditions change rapidly. Nurses are on call 24 hours a day, and hospice will be there when a person’s health takes a turn for the worse. Loved ones and caregivers will be able to call on a nurse, and they’ll also have the benefit of spending more time with their loved one because hospice is in a more intimate setting.
These nurses will also assist with the funeral home pick up, calling to make the final arrangement for the deceased.
When the deceased has been picked up, the nurse will also talk to the person conducting an autopsy as needed and can help clean up soiled bedding.
Directives, in terms of your healthcare, should be filed so that your wishes are known if you can no longer provide directions to your medical team. Writing a will and having an estate plan can further lessen the hardships that your family will suffer from upon your demise.
End of life options are available, and there are ways to die with the dignity and respect that you had while living.