Ideally, your family members will know in advance your wishes and preferences for end-of-life care, if you are ever diagnosed with a life-limiting illness or cannot make decisions. And ideally, you will also know the wishes and preferences of your relatives.
According to rough estimates, about 30 percent of Americans drew up an advance directive, a written plan that describes the types of care you want, and don’t want, at the end of life.
But an advance directive means talking about the subject, a necessary conversation that is never easy. The topic can be approached more easily by starting a family conversation with scenarios and questions like “What would happen if …?”
- What would happen if I suffered a stroke and could not speak?
- What would happen if an accident or serious fall left him in a coma? Do you want life support treatment by mechanical ventilation or feeding tubes?
- What would happen if I was diagnosed with a type of aggressive cancer that no longer responds to treatment?
- If you face a life-limiting diagnosis, who will speak for you, who will decide for you and what will they decide, based on your values and desires?
The resulting conversations can reassure family members and designated caregivers as important issues have been addressed and everyone can make informed decisions when the time comes.
Conversations and decisions about treatment and intervention options, non-resuscitation orders, burial plans, funerals / memorial services and other issues may continue and change over time; However, writing them now offers immediate guidance and avoids crisis later.
The moment is important
In reality, many conversations about end-of-life care take place when a patient is too sick or too sedated to participate. Decisions of such magnitude can fall on family members, caregivers and medical teams, sometimes under stress and often full of emotions, disagreements and confusion.
Transferring the focus of personal opinions and beliefs to the interests of a loved one, in accordance with their values, can help realign priorities and bring peace of mind to everyone.
Regardless of whether you want to think proactively or have to make decisions today, use the “best Hospice services” guide to start the conversation and find solutions for you and your loved ones.
Hospice is an option
At some point in life, most of us will have to make a decision about end-of-life care. In general, the decision is something like: do we want to continue with aggressive treatment until the end, or do we prefer another option, such as hospice care?
Education is key
After years of listening to people’s hospice experiences, Hernandez believes it is important that all members of the community be informed about the concept of end-of-life care, including the variety of services known as palliative care and family care hospice.