Planning for the End of LifePublished: March 9, 2023
We tend not to talk or think about end-of-life planning because it’s a difficult topic for us. But without planning for it, we will have fewer options and things may not go as well as we would like for them to.
You may wish to pass away in the comfort of your home, but without making proper arrangements in advance, you may end up in a hospital or nursing home. Or, without proper planning, you may be kept alive by artificial means for a long period even if you would rather be allowed to pass on.
By planning for your end-of-life care in advance, you can rest easier knowing that you will be able to live the last part of your life the way you want.
Things to Consider When Planning for End-of-Life Care
End-of-life experiences differ from person to person. For some people death comes quickly. For others, the process can take days, weeks, or even months. In some cases, a person’s body weakens while their mind remains lucid. In other cases, the body continues to function but the mind fades, such as with dementia. Sometimes, due usually to a severe accident, a person is in a comatose state before their body and mind both cease to function.
People who are near the end of their lives generally need care in four areas:
- Physical comfort
- Mental and emotional comfort
- Spiritual comfort
- Help with daily tasks
Think about how you want your needs met in these areas and your preference for where you want to receive care. Do you want to spend the end of your life in your home? Would you prefer to be in a nursing home? Do you want family and friends with you? Would you prefer to be in a hospital receiving treatment till the end? How long would you want to receive palliative care? At what point would you want to begin hospice care?
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses, such as cancer. In addition to receiving treatment for their serious illness, patients receive palliative care for the symptoms of the illness or the effects of the treatment, or both. An example of palliative care would be a patient receiving care for anemia that is caused by treatment for cancer.
Palliative care enhances the patient’s life by focusing on the quality of their life. Palliative care can be provided anywhere, from hospitals to clinics to nursing homes to the patient’s home. Some private health insurance providers cover some palliative care. Veterans may be eligible for palliative care through the VA. The public may have access to palliative care through Medicaid and Medicare.
Many people with terminal illnesses reach a point when their treatment is no longer effective. At this stage, they have the option of ending the treatment for their terminal illness and switching to hospice care. Like palliative care, hospice care focuses on comfort and quality of life, but without trying to cure the terminal illness. The number of patients who are choosing hospice care is growing. Hospice care also provides support for the patient’s family.
Since hospice care is more of an approach to care than a type of treatment, hospice patients can receive care wherever they are, including in the comfort of their home. Hospice care may be covered by Medicare, the VA, and health insurance companies. Check with your insurance provider to find out if they cover hospice care.
Communicating Your Wishes
End-of-life planning is a highly personal matter. Take the time to decide what types of treatments and care you want near the end of your life. Give equal consideration to what types of treatments you don’t want to receive. It may help to discuss your wishes and options with your family and an elder law attorney.
Once you have made your decisions about your end-of-life care, formalize them in the appropriate legal documents. Make sure your loved ones know what your wishes are and where they can find your legal documents. If you are unable to communicate with medical professionals due to serious illness or injury, you will want your health-care agents to promptly start making decisions on your behalf.
It is important to keep your legal documents updated if you change your mind about what is in them. It is never too early to start planning for end-of-life care or medical emergencies. Contact us today to learn how we can help you and your loved ones rest more easily by planning for the future.
Our law firm is dedicated to keeping you informed of issues that affect seniors who may be experiencing declining health. We help you and your loved ones prepare for potential long-term medical expenses and the need to transition to in-home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care.
If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.