Many people associate end-of-life care with the feeling of helplessness and absence of control over what is done to keep the bits of life inside your body up and running. But this is not so, with many legal arrangements allowing you to assume control over all end-of-life manipulations and activities. It is done with living wills, medical POAs, or DNR orders, forming various aspects of the advance directive planning process.
The easiest way to communicate your late-stage care is to fill out a living form template on formspal.com and get it notarized. But to know all the intricacies of the process, continue reading this article. We have compiled many valuable end-of-life planning tips to help you ensure your wishes are respected.
End-of-life Care Principles
Why would you need to plan the details of end-of-life care while you’re young and full of energy? Knowing more about this subject helps people of all ages; somebody might also be interested in organizing the best end-of-life conditions for their elderly parents or relatives. Others may be approaching advanced age, wishing to have everything set up, and some people may fear that a sudden terminal disease strikes them, urging them to seek end-of-life care prematurely.
In all of these conditions, your concern about planning is natural. We all want to make sure that our needs at all levels will be respected and met at the end-of-life stage, whether we spend our last days at home or a medical institution. The principles of high-quality late-stage care you can count on are:
- All medical activities conducted concerning patients and caregivers;
- The whole spectrum of medical treatments and manipulations assigned to the patient upon their consent and with their proper understanding;
- An active role of the patient in late-stage care choices and decisions;
- Provision of all necessary pain and adverse physical symptom alleviation management.
So, with these standards of care in mind, you can start planning your end-of-life care at any stage. Here are some things to consider in the process.
Types of End-of-life Care
First, you need to decide what type of late-stage care you wish to receive. It mainly depends on the place where you’ll spend the final days of your life. Here are the options:
- Home care. Some individuals prefer not to spend their final days in a medical institution, so they can make preliminary arrangements to receive high-quality nursing care in their home settings. A medical specialist visiting such patients administers pain and symptom management medications, controls the patient’s state, and provides medical and spiritual support for the aging person.
- Staying at a care home. Care homes differ from hospitals, but they also provide adequate medical support and late-stage care for the elderly. These can be local voluntary organizations or private care organizations. Check the facilities available in your neighborhood to see whether this option is suitable for you.
- Being at a hospital. Some people dread becoming a burden for their relatives, preferring to stay at hospitals at the end of their lives. This option is costlier than the previous two, but it is more suitable for people with chronic, debilitating diseases. At the hospital, medical staff provides end-of-life care around the clock, making sure that pain and adverse symptoms of your illness are effectively curbed.
- Becoming a hospice resident. Those diagnosed with a terminal illness often choose to spend their last days at hospices as these institutions aim to improve the quality of lives of people who expect to pass away in their near future. In such places, the staff is skilled in managing pain, providing emotional support, and taking care of the patients’ social and spiritual needs.
Settling the Financial Side of the Issue
Another significant aspect of end-of-life planning is the financial situation. It’s not a secret that late-stage care is costly as elderly or palliative patients usually require a permanent place in a medical facility, 24/7 care, painkillers, and other medications to sustain their comfortable existence. So, depending on your budget and financial prospects, you can determine the type of end-of-life care facility. Set the financial goals, open a savings account, and start collecting money. The earlier you start, the more financial freedom you’ll have with late-stage care options.
End-of-life vs. Palliative Care
It’s also critical to keep the distinction between palliative care and late-stage care in mind. Palliative patients are the ones who have a terminal illness and require pain management, constant administration of medications, and some life-sustaining procedures. Those who are not ill may benefit from regular late-stage care presupposing health indicators’ control, preventive medications for their age-related conditions (e.g., hypertension), and constant supervision of assistive staff.
What Can You Plan?
Though we can’t predict everything, with preliminary end-of-life care planning, you can stipulate some essential aspects and make sure your decisions and preferences are respected when the time comes.
- You can issue an advance directive to determine what medical actions you accept and which ones you refuse.
- You can make medical arrangements if you become unconscious and can’t give any more instructions for medical treatments — this is done with the help of a living will.
- You can assign a proxy to advocate your healthcare needs and communicate your preferences — a medical POA can help you with this.
- You can notarize a DNR order to avoid resuscitation.
It’s better to compile all documents in advance, thinking over your healthcare values and desires. Having this documentation at hand is a sure guarantee of getting the late-stage care you expected, avoiding arguments or conflicts during the last days of your life.