Preparing For End Of Life Care truthseeker08 / Pixabay All sorts of emotions can come into play when a resident of Manchester or elsewhere transitions from traditional care into end-of-life care. There likely is fear of the unknown and the start of grief over the pending loss, even if the person may have weeks or even months until their death is predicted. At the same time, there may even be some feelings of relief that a loved one is now able to focus on quality of life, can spend time at home with friends and family, make peace with the world and have the ability to finalize their affairs. The staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice has been working with clients in Eastern Iowa for years, so we’ve seen and talked to clients and families who have experienced all of these feelings and more. That has helped us become familiar with many of what people will think and encounter, since, for many, this might be their first experience with a hospice program. As a trusted provider of home care services and end-of-life care services, we are always happy to share what our other clients have experienced, although every situation is different. Providing this information can be kind and reassuring to clients and their families, especially when there’s often such a strong feeling of uncertainty about what is coming at a physical, mental and emotional level. Different stages Making the transition to end-of-life care can mean different things to different people. A lot depends on the individual, their support system, their abilities, their prognosis and where they are in the final chapter of their journey. For instance, someone who moves into hospice late may only have a week or so to live. They may be weak and unable to stay active for very long. They also may need high levels of medication to stay lucid but also reduce their pain. At the same time, others may enter hospice with several months before their expected death. They may still retain some strength and energy to do more but this may gradually fade. They may have more time to try and tackle an enormous to-do list. But in most cases, they’ll be looking to others more familiar with the hospice system for guidance. This is often part of the role of a hospice nurse, aide, or therapist beyond offering direct care. These experts also are happy to provide this information since they all are compassionate people as well as aware that many clients and families in our current culture are not all that familiar with the death and dying process. In some cases, the client and their family may be in different stages of grief as well. The client may have begun to accept the inevitable and is beginning to resign himself or herself that death is coming for them in the near future. Their families may still be at the bargaining, denial or anger stages of grief, hoping that everything will turn out to be a big mistake or a medical error. What to think about Families entering end-of-life care sometimes have to make some decisions, and not just what music to play at their memorial service. Some of these can include: Finalizing a provider. Some traditional doctors will be fine continuing to see a patient through their entire life including the final parts of it. Others may need to or want to step back and let another provider take the primary role especially someone with more experience with palliative care and the different mental and physical needs of patients in their final days. Some traditional doctors may feel that they’ve done everything they can to treat whatever caused you to enter hospice, so there’s not much else to do to help. Fill out vital paperwork. Some of the big to-do/bucket lists are fine to not get to. But some medical and financial forms do require you to be of sound mind and body, and if you die before filling them out, it could expose your family to lawsuits or unneeded judicial drama. This can include finalizing or double-checking your will. A power of attorney will allow someone else to make decisions for you if you’re unable to. Other advanced care directives will allow the medical staff to continue to prolong your life or let you go, based on your wishes. Other medical needs. Even if your body is slowing down, that doesn’t mean all care has to stop. You may still need medications for certain health conditions along with pain. You may still be at high risk for the flu so a shot or other preventive methods may be a good idea. Allergic reactions are also possible. A regular massage by a skilled massage therapist can help relax you so you can sleep better and stress less. Communicate key items to family members. Whether or not you have specific closure or reconciliations with specific family members isn’t as important as that they know important information like how to access certain bank accounts, electronics, even social media accounts and passwords. Seek guidance. The local hospice office is a good start, since, even if they aren’t familiar with you, they can discuss options and resources. A religious figure from your community might also be able to discuss mortality at a practical and spiritual level.