Planning starts with asking yourself some crucial questions to determine what is important to you.
If facing an advanced life-limiting illness:
- Who do you want to make decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself?
- Would you want a natural death or do you want to be kept alice artificially on life support?
- What medical treatments and care are acceptable to you? What are your fears?
- Would you want medical treatments provided to sustain life if those treatments would not enhance you quality of life?
- Would you prefer to die at home, in a hospital, or other medical facility?
Learn your options. Know what types of decisions you need to make.
Talk to your doctor.
Ask about medical treatments that are commonly used for advanced life-limiting or terminal illnesses.
Discuss the benefits and limitations of the medical treatments that are available.
Answers to these questions can help you make informed choices and understand some of the ethical and practical challenges to medical care near end of life.
Discuss your wishes with your family and loved ones.
This can be a true gift to family members, sparing them difficult decisions in a time of crisis.
Document your wishes to reduce confusion and ensure that they are followed.
Completing Advance Directives can help protect you at a time when you may not be able to communicate what you want or make your own healthcare decisions.
Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life for people facing serious, often chronic, illness. It concentrates on pain and symptom management, communication, and coordination of the patient's care. Palliative care is appropriate from the time of diagnosis and may be provided along with curative treatment. It is not limited to hospice care or end of life care.
Hospice care focuses on maximizing quality of life, ensuring comfort, enabling patient control, and facilitating important end of life considerations, such as closure. It is appropriate for someone in the final stages of a life-limiting illness with a life expectancy of 6 months or less.
What types of service does hospice provide?
Hospice care, together with a patient's physician, helps manage symptoms and pain, allowing a person to live more fully and with dignity. Hospice may also provide social work services, volunteer visitors, as well as spiritual and grief support. Hospice also includes supportive services to family members and caregivers.
How can you learn more about your options for end of life care?
Talk to your doctor, spiritual advisor, social worker or case manager. Contact COA for our booklet Preparing and Planning for Life's Final Chapter.
- Advance Care Plan/Living Will
- Appointed of Health Care Agent/Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
- Durable Power of Attorney for Financial & General Decisions
- Last Will & Testament
Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to plan and make your end of life wishes known if you are unable to speak for yourself.
Advance Directives Include:
- Advance Care Plan or Living Will
tells doctors and your family what care you want and what care you do not want if terminally ill.
- Appointed of Health Care Agent or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
appoints a person to make health care decisions for you in case you are unable to speak for yourself.
The above information was provided by the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee. Please visit their website www.coamidtn.org for more information about this wonderful organization.