One of the hardest – but important – things residents of Cedar Rapids and elsewhere can do is prepare for the end of their life. This means making some difficult decisions about everything from your estate to your funeral to any needed end-of-life care.
It’s often a topic people like to avoid thinking about or talking about with their loved ones, but it’s also something that the staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice know is important.
Making these decisions can avoid loved ones trying to figure out your wishes after your death, a situation that can be known to lead to disagreements and conflict when multiple people are involved, and requiring people to not be able to focus on their grief if they have to focus on little details like what songs to play at the funeral.
Though it can be an emotionally painful secret to discuss, family members generally do appreciate it when some of these end-of-life decisions are decided in advance. This doesn’t just include what to do after someone is gone but any instructions about what to do before their death. This can include directives like whether life-saving methods should be used if someone is in critical health; whether to be an organ donor; and whether to be placed on a ventilator.
These resuscitation/no resuscitation policies are important and also minimize family members having to make these tough decisions.
Another decision that can be made in advance is who can speak for you, including making legal or medical choices on your behalf. While anyone can make an informal designation and request a friend or family member to help, you can also make it official with a legal document authorizing someone with your power of attorney.
This provides the person who is designated with plenty of support if they need to speak on your behalf if there is ever a situation where you’re unable to, such as a coma, unconscious, unresponsive, or unable to speak.
While your designated advocate doesn’t have to carry the official paper with him or her at all times, you can still declare who you are in situations where your presence is needed.
The above information is useful in general to help people – and their families – with their end of life plans and special requests.
It’s useful info to have and know anytime but especially helpful during times of emergency and public health challenges such as pandemics or civil unrest. Difficult times also can add more items to people’s to-do lists, especially in terms of end-of-life care needs.
In some situations, someone may have to go to the hospital and never come home, so they won’t have time to finalize some of their arrangements. Or a health episode can claim their life quickly so they also won’t have time to issue instructions.
In other cases, family members or other trusted people may not be available to help or consult with if they’re dealing with their own health needs or other obligations. Or a quarantine will not allow them to come close.
Some of the additional items to consider include:
- Pet care. If you do pass away or have to be hospitalized, who will take care of any pets? This question shouldn’t be considered part of an estate question like who inherits your animals. This can be settled weeks or months after your death. But it’s more of an immediate question like who will feed and shelter your animals right away.
- Medical information. In the event that hospitalization is needed for short term and long-term, have an easy-to-access file available for anyone that includes insurance information, basic medical history, any allergies, and details about and contact information for a primary doctor or provider. This can be useful to people helping out who may not know this information. It can be shared with any medical staff as well to avoid delays or billing problems later. This can also indicate any preferences on hospitals or your Do Not Resuscitate info.
- Financial information. If someone is trying to go through your belongings after your death, they may not be sure where to start, such as any outstanding bills, bank accounts, or other investments. Information about various accounts or how to contact your financial advisor, attorney, or executor should be easily available. A folder should be easily accessible with info like access information and authorization for certain people to access this information. Your current will should also be in this group of documentation to avoid future estate questions.
- End of life info. Assuming you’ve made some or all of these arrangements make sure this information is easy for anyone to locate, including what funeral home you would like to work with, your preference of burial or cremation, any particular cemetery or interment information, any type of service, any obituary information or any details about charitable support.
Though it is a little scary to worry about end of life details during a health emergency, preparing for the worst can provide some peace of mind for you and your family members.