End-of-life care is ultimately something that will impact all people. It is easy to push these difficult questions and concepts off because no one wants to think about their own mortality, but there is also a lot of value in coming to terms with critical end-of-life care decisions well in advance. Whether you are thinking ahead for your own planning or thinking about how to assist a family member who may be experiencing cognitive or physical decline, it is never easy to think about end-of-life care.
Given that many people are uncomfortable thinking about the loss of a loved one, in many cases it takes the experience of living through such a situation to start thinking about what end-of-life care means and what planning for it requires. Watching a loved one struggle is never easy, and eventually it may fall to family members to determine whether that loved one needs additional support in the form of hospice care.
By thinking carefully about how just one person can benefit from hospice, more individuals can also benefit from this crucial program as well. Finding the right time to incorporate hospice allows a loved one to receive the care and comfort necessary to have peace during an otherwise difficult time.
End-of-Life Care and Its Effect on Loved Ones and Beyond
Coming to terms with all the emotional and realistic aspects of assisting someone at the end of their life is challenging no matter who you are and no matter how the situation has developed. Unfortunately, many people put off critical decisions about end-of-life care because they find this to be an uncomfortable topic. However, thinking about the important aspects of managing end-of-life care now can help family members or loved ones face difficult decisions on someone else’s behalf in the future.
The downside of a lack of end-of-life care planning can translate to other people involved in the process. This means that the pain associated with the loss of a loved one can ripple across to other family members as well.
The fear of death drives all social pathology, and it also highlights one of the aspects of life that simply cannot be changed; that ultimately everyone will leave this Earth by one cause or another. The loss of a loved one comes with many different emotions including confusion, fear, and anger, and this can be amplified when family members gather together and do not understand the appropriate way to plan for someone’s end-of-life care. The failure to have realistic, meaningful, and open conversations about the personal mortality of all individuals contributes to widespread civilizational suffering.
Do Not Avoid Thinking About Special Planning Opportunities
Many people choose not to talk about death because they wish to deny their own mortality, but, unfortunately, this makes things difficult. These difficulties not only affect the individual who is struggling with end-of-life care, but also for his or her family members who must confront these difficult situations on their own. By the time end-of-life care planning is necessary, family members may not be able to convey their wishes due to illness or disease. However, there is an opportunity now to initiate a universal conversation about the value of end-of-life planning.
Begin by thinking about what can be done to help even one patient and his or her family members. This type of consideration is one of the most common reasons that families and patients use hospice care to assist patients who have serious or life threatening conditions. Many of the patients who use hospice treatment have inadequate methods to control their own pain, and there is little to no purpose for treatment associated with incurable illnesses. Hospice is in some ways a campaign to assist with end-of-life planning for not just the affected patient but also his or her family members.
Improving end-of-life conversations can also improve on the dominance of mortal fear in any decisions made. Planning ahead for one patient and his or her family members can minimize the grief, anger, fear, and other associated emotions that may be tied to the hospice conversation. It can eradicate much of the confusion that many family members face when they are trying to figure out what is in the best interests of a shared loved one. A loved one who may not have articulated his or her wishes leaves family members with the grief and frustrating situation of trying to guess what is appropriate. Furthermore, it can put loved ones in the difficult circumstance of arguing with one another over the most appropriate course of action. This is just one of the many reasons why it is strongly recommended that you think about end-of-life planning well in advance.
Consulting with a knowledgeable hospice service before a patient needs care helps to address many of the key questions associated with end-of-life care planning. This gives family members time to consider an approach a hospice care that will be the right fit for the individual and the family.
Hospice care can address many different needs, including providing peace of mind to loved ones and family members who wish to minimize the pain suffered by the shared loved one at the end of their life.
Why It Is So Critical to Plan Ahead
It is believed that nearly 70% of aging seniors will eventually become unable to communicate their individual care preferences. The gap between what patients may receive and what patients want in this particular situation is usually the result of poorly aligned incentives, fear, and lack of information or misinformation. Appropriate end-of-life care planning can help to address this problem and put individual Americans, as well as their family members, in charge of their own care while also making the final stages of a patient’s life more dignified and comfortable.
The vast majority of patients nearing the end of their life want a level of care short of the default medical situation of all possible treatment. Healthcare professionals in the United States today do respect individual freedoms and allow patients to control their care, but a vast majority of people never take this important and critical planning care step.
Given all of the options, most people would prefer to spend the last days of their life in their own homes rather than in institutions or hospitals. Unfortunately, however, over half of Americans aged 65 and older pass away in nursing homes or acute care hospitals.
The need to protect the individual autonomy and to respect it near the end of a person’s life is increasing rapidly, particularly since 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 and gain Medicare eligibility every single year. The number of Americans on Medicare between now and 2050 will double to 84 million.
Getting the Planning Process Started
Thinking about end-of-life care is a valuable exercise for anyone. Whether it is thinking ahead to the special needs a parent may have as a result of mental or cognitive decline or considering individual needs, thinking about the care for one allows for a better understanding of the care for all.
When it comes time to evaluate a hospice care provider, there are many different important questions that should be asked. Hospice is an essential support not only for the patient, but loved ones as well. Doing the work ahead of time to understand the benefits of hospice and how it can assist an entire family can make this challenging process slightly easier.
It is important for a care provider to know exactly what wishes a patient has with regard to end-of-life procedures. Leaving this for family members to discuss and determine can add extra confusion and conflict for individuals already coping with a challenging experience. While some people might not have a particular preference, putting off the decision about end-of-life care can make things more difficult than they need to be for loved ones. Getting ahead of the curve gives extra assurance that care is adhering to an individual’s wishes. Contact Harbor Light Hospice for more information.