Many end of life care experts suggest that people take the time to finalize all of the details of their final arrangements ahead of time, everything from the clothes they wear to what music is played at their funeral or memorial service.
This is definitely a recommended approach for residents of Manchester and elsewhere – it lets people have a say in their own ceremony and also will give their surviving family and friends the ability to grieve fully without getting too deep in decision-making or trying to guess what their loved one would have really wanted – a situation that sometimes can get heated if someone never gave any clear preferences.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice also encourage this type of pre-planning as a way to reduce everyone’s stress. These discussions can even help bring people together in the spirit of collaboration, such as suggesting silly songs, finding inspirational readings together, or selecting pictures for a slideshow.
There are also some areas where this type of pre-planning can be done earlier, including what type of atmosphere you want around you in your final days.
This isn’t just a psychological or emotional question, but an important physical question too. How do you want your space set up, in terms of what’s around you? Do you want certain music playing? Do you want it bright or dim? What kind of a view do you want?
All of these areas can be a boost to quality of life which is emphasized especially in hospice programs.
After all, being able to make these choices for how to arrange or decorate your home is generally preferred to an impersonal and clinical hospital room. (There are some exceptions: some hospitals have recently begun to create ‘meditation/reflection’ rooms for patients with limited time who aren’t able to go home – these may have a better view of the horizon or at least a garden rather than a parking lot, or more pleasant and soothing colors and decorations, rather than the same look as the other rooms.)
Ultimately, the type of décor depends on the individual and how comfortable or uncomfortable certain surroundings make them.
For instance, someone may find religious hymns and harp music soothing especially if their faith is strong, while others may feel it’s too suggestive of a possible afterlife when they’re not quite done with this life yet. Likewise, dim lighting may be appreciated by people who don’t like things too bright at the present time, but others might find this type of atmosphere too gloomy.
Figuring out the right décor can be a good discussion between family members. The one who is receiving hospice care certainly deserves a chance to share their preferences, but likely will appreciate suggestions or requests from other family members.
Some of the factors can include:
- Light: If someone is having problems seeing, or alternating between napping and being awake, it might be a good idea to keep the light a little subdued, including lamps or curtains/blinds. But giving someone an option to adjust as needed anytime, such as opening the curtains can go a long way.
- Décor. What surroundings do you want around you? Do you like seeing artwork? Or can you even see it in the dim space? Do you want pictures around you of family members and people close to you? Do you want religious items you can see and be inspired by? Would you like to see cards or letters from concerned loved ones? It shouldn’t be that difficult for you or family members to temporarily adjust what’s hanging on the walls or nearby.
- Sound: ‘Angel music’ might be good or bad, depending on who’s listening. It may be an absolutely wrong choice for someone who has never enjoyed this music in the first place. But it still can be nice to have some pleasant music playing in the background. Your favorite oldies or country band, maybe, or something light that isn’t too stressful. Today’s electronic devices, such as Alexa can help people create or change playlists depending on their mood and interests.
- People: Some people may love having loved ones around, and some have used hospice occasions to bring estranged family members and friends together. It could be great fun to pack a room with chums. But at the same time, you also might want some quiet, reflective time by yourself.
- View: What would you like to look upon? Do you want to watch the sunrise or the sunset? Do you want to look at your garden? Do you want to watch who is coming up and down the street? In some cases, furnishings can be easily arranged to create an optimal view.
Hospice officials are always available to help family members configure their surroundings to create an area that’s relaxing and appealing.