Waiting for the last minute might be fun for some residents of Manchester and elsewhere, but not necessarily all that enjoyable for the people around them, especially where end of life care is concerned.
However, that doesn’t stop many people from putting off this type of planning until there’s very little time left, or in some cases, passing away before important decisions can be made, leaving survivors to make these choices by themselves.
The staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care has seen all sorts of last-minute care decisions made or at least postponed by many patients over the years. They also have seen patients who have taken the initiative to begin taking care of some of these care details early on. Having these details arranged well in advance can provide peace of mind to you moving forward, as well as to any family members/loved ones.
In some cases, patients can not only make final arrangements far ahead of time but other health care decisions. Doing these sooner than later can go a long way to helping people’s peace of mind later on and relieving them of some possible sources of stress.
Even if you haven’t made the decisions just yet, you can still invite family members to be part of these discussions and offer any suggestions. Even though the decisions are ultimately up to you, family members and loved ones may appreciate being provided the opportunity to communicate.
Here are some areas that can be done in advance:
- When to transition from “standard” care to something else. If you aren’t very optimistic about the outcome of upcoming tests or procedures, especially ones that are expected to be painful and come with high risks, you may want to suggest receiving palliative care instead. This is a medical philosophy that focuses more on a patient’s quality of life, rather than continuous testing and experimenting, often in a hospital setting. This option can be utilized at any time. Clients can also decide if or when to enter hospice if they or their health provider consider this a necessary step.
- Living will. Some people prefer that every effort is made to save prolong their lives, no matter how risky. Others may elect to have nature take its course and say “no thank you” to offers of a ventilator or artificial assistance. Making this decision allows you to decide what could work ideally for you in the future, just in case you’re not able to discuss this later. Your family members also may not know your wishes or want to make this decision themselves. These advance care directives can also help the care you receive especially in an emergency situation.
⦁ End of life arrangements. Beyond basic levels of care, people can begin to make decisions on their estate, their funeral, their burial, their insurance and any financial details that take place after their death. Beginning the discussion or paperwork for these details early on can be reassuring and good for your mental health knowing that things are going in a direction you want them to go, such as taking care of any paperwork. In some cases, you can even save money – some funeral homes or cemeteries may offer lower rates to people who make these arrangements early.
- Location. Many people have a goal of staying at home independently as long as possible. But sometimes circumstances or health conditions may require that someone’s location needs to change. This may take the form of moving to a different, smaller place; moving in with a family member, or even relocating to an assisted care facility if the amount of regular care required is high. Deciding where to live and how long to live there can be useful and provide you and your family a guide to when you are ready to move and what you can do to stay in your own place. For instance, as your health declines as you age, there will likely be growing pressure to move somewhere that will offer a higher level of care. Or you can indicate conditions that you want to stay in your own place, such as bringing in a caregiver or home health care providers full time or part-time, or even an occupational therapist.
Family members having to make some or all of these decisions might go badly. They may disagree on what your final wishes really would be and what you really would want. The stress of the situation may cause extra tension and stress when they should be coming together to grieve.
Or some people may not want to make some of these decisions at all, which could cause legal or financial problems later on, such as an estate that lacks a will.
So essentially, by making these decisions that may or may not be difficult for you right now, you’re doing your family members and loved ones a favor and saving them tension later.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care will be happy to help you or other family members take care of some of these decisions.