That’s why home health care agencies like Above and Beyond Home Health Care are always happy to be a useful resource for patients, their families and loved ones, and any caregivers.
While everything a family or individual might be going through in their remaining time together might be new, unfamiliar and confusing, end of life care is something that home health professionals have experienced with hundreds of area families.
Every family, health condition and situation might be a little different, but they likely will benefit from the support of professionals who have been able to help other families at these times.
This support can take the form of letting families know what physical and mental changes might be taking place and what they can do to help. They can also connect with any providers to let them know medical information.
What can be especially useful is being able to provide assistance and encouragement to remind them of some of the procedural things that can be taken care of.
While a home health care nurse or caregiver might not necessarily be the best person to help with paperwork, he or she can still encourage families to reach out to people who specialize in financial, legal, estate planning services, plus details like funeral arrangements.
Taking care of these items, while potentially stressful, can provide a high degree of peace of mind for someone who wants to provide clear guidance for their final wishes.
Likewise, failing to finalize some of these items can lead to confusion, hurt feelings, and possible legal conflicts from family members over what your wishes and intentions really might be.
End of life experts suggests five useful documents.
- A Will. This is a formal, legally binding declaration of how you want your estate to be divided among your survivors, whether it’s your current or former spouse, your children or relatives, other special people in your life, even charities or programs you support. While Hollywood makes it seem like only people with tons of money and property need these, it’s actually smart for anyone to create one, even if you only have a few possessions. Having clear instructions for your property and assets can keep people from going to court to fight over them. A basic will is inexpensive to create with an attorney, and in some cases, can be done in emergencies with only a few witnesses.
- Power of attorney. If you’re ever at the point where you’re unable to make reliable physical, mental, legal or financial decisions, then this document will appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf based on their judgment and your previously expressed wishes. This can prevent other family members who you may not trust to just guess at what you may want. The degree of these wishes may vary – someone can have a blanket power for everything or only for health care decisions.
- Living will. This provides information on what medical procedures you want or don’t want to be performed on you, especially in a lifesaving situation when you may not be conscious. Hospitals used to revive anyone who was considered near death, even if they were technically brain dead. They could be hooked up to a respirator or other equipment to keep their bodies alive indefinitely. But some people in this situation would prefer to die peacefully rather than continue if their brains no longer function. A document called a DNR in the living will informs providers and medical staff whether to continue lifesaving efforts or allow you to die.
- Organ donor notification. This question is often asked when someone renews their driver’s license, but people don’t give it a lot of thought after that. If you’re making final instructions and preparing paperwork, make sure people know whether you’re OK with your organs being available to help others or if you prefer not to do so.
- POLST. A “Physician’s order for life-sustaining treatment” shows that the patient and their provider have had conversations about what end-of-life care options work best and are preferred. By signing this order, their provider will indicate that he or she agrees with this course of action. The document will also provide guidance to any other providers or medical staff that may not be sure which course of action needs to be taken.
There are a variety of other documents that can be useful for people at this time of life. Though too much paperwork can be aggravating especially when there are limited time and energy, taking care of some of these items can provide a nice sense of security that someone’s family is taken care of.
This is also a good time to learn about other opportunities to learn more. Oct. 3-10 is Financial Planning Week, an annual promotion that encourages people of all ages to learn more about things like savings, which can become a useful lifetime habit.
Above and Beyond Home Health Care is happy to point people in the right direction.