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Why We Need to Have Conversations About End-of-Life Care

by Dr Prem Community Writer
About End-of-Life Care

When you spend time with your loved ones, you want to enjoy the moment. You might meet up for a barbecue or to celebrate the holidays. In those moments, everyone embraces the happiness family brings. It can feel nearly impossible to discuss tough subjects like end-of-life care.

Many people feel this way, which is what leads to painful experiences later on. A family member might end up in the hospital overnight without a chance of recovery. Your loved one may receive a diagnosis of a progressive disease like dementia that takes their choices away from them.

It’s vital to have conversations about end-of-life care before the need for it arises. With the right tips, you’ll have a straightforward discussion and save everyone from pain and confusion later on.

It’s Easy to Avoid

End-of-Life CareNo one wants to feel like they bring negative energy to a room. You don’t want to discuss a sad topic when there are happier things to talk about, which is something many people can relate to. It’s natural to avoid talking about end-of-life care when things are going well, but that’s precisely when the conversation needs to happen.

Another reason people might not want to bring it up is because they don’t want to offend their loved ones. Age is a touchy subject, especially if your family member has age-related struggles they don’t like to talk about. Finding a moment to speak alone with them will help navigate these emotions, or you can ask their partner to join in so they feel supported.

There Are Many Options

It’s a common misconception that end-of-life care happens when someone’s on life support in the hospital. Although close family members should know what their loved one would prefer in that situation, the conversation should start weeks, months or years before someone’s death. Here are some of the most common care options people can choose.

1. Hospice Care at Home

Hospice Care at HomeReceiving help at home is the standard first step in end-of-life care. This would be when a loved one is diagnosed with a progressive, chronic illness and can’t take care of themselves on their own. They may have trouble remembering their daily routine or safely moving around their house.

Hospice care may also be referred to as palliative care, because the day-to-day service covers physical and emotional support.

2. Skilled Nursing Facilities

Commonly referred to as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities are another way people take care of their loved ones. Hospice nurses and specialists work in shifts, which some families struggle to pay for around the clock. In nursing facilities, 24/7 care comes with the upfront cost. It’s comforting for families to know their loved one is continuously around professionals who can handle any care issues. That’s why nursing facilities house over 1.5 million residents around the country, with the number growing every day.

3. High-Intensity Hospital Care

High-Intensity Hospital CareA patient who is advanced in their illness and suffers from periodic life-threatening episodes might need high-intensity hospital care at some point. They could experience medical emergencies more often than not, which puts a strain on care professionals who don’t have hospital resources at their disposal.

In a hospital, high-intensity patients stay in either intensive care units (ICUs) or coronary care units (CCUs). Doctors, nurses and specialists have all the equipment they need to treat the patient and extend their life while providing medical comfort. This is often the last step loved ones take during end-of-life care, and it’s important to know if your family member has signed a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order.

Planning Creates Stability

Some people may hold the opinion that there’s no use discussing end-of-life care because you can’t plan for death. While that’s true, it’s smart to talk about your loved one’s death while they’re still around so you know what they would want to happen.

After someone passes away, there are many things to consider. You’ll need to know who they would want to tell first and if they’re part of any military or religious groups that might conduct funeral services. They may have an opinion on who should take care of their home in those first few weeks and which lawyer should go over their will. You shouldn’t be afraid to  start a conversation about how they would like their remains to be treated and debunk any myths or concerns about their future funeral.

No one has control over when or how they pass away, but giving your loved one the ability to make these decisions ahead of time will provide them with a sense of stability. It can be comforting for them to know everything and everyone will be taken care of once they’re no longer around.

Break up the Conversation

If your loved one is uncomfortable sitting down for this conversation, break it up among multiple visits. Cover one topic at a time so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Discuss what kind of care they would prefer, their thoughts on emergency resuscitation techniques and if they want a memorial. Once the discussion is over, you’ll both feel reassured about what’s to come in the future.

Article Submitted By Community Writer