For some people, there comes the point in their illness where death is not a matter of if, but when. It’s in your best interest to decide how you want to live out your remaining time. Do you want to continue your treatment? Do you want to remain in the hospital? Or do you want to live out your days in the comfort of your home, surrounded by friends and family?
If you decide not to do anything, medical professionals are bound by oath to keep you alive, even if it’s not in your best interest. While there are cases of people with a terminal condition making a full recovery, it all depends on the case’s circumstances. It’s best to make preparations for something that will most likely happen than to go out without a sense of closure.
You’ll probably get all the answers you’re looking for after a frank discussion with your doctor. If they say that further treatment won’t change the prognosis, consider going into hospice care so that you can remain comfortable. But planning goes beyond choosing what to do with our days. Here are a few other things you can do to prepare for what lies ahead.
1. Do some research
Data allows us to make better decisions, so it only makes sense to do some research about your options when it comes to end-of-life care. That way, you can decide on a plan that works for you. Spend some time reading up on palliative care before sharing with your friends and family what you want to do with your remaining days. That way, everyone can rest assured that you’re making an informed decision.
You’re going to have to answer a few difficult questions. Faced with the possibility of death, what do you want to do with your time left in this world? Would you prefer to endure treatment, even if it’s painful if there’s a chance of extending your life? Or would you rather manage your symptoms and remain comfortable while waiting for the end?
You’ll probably want to know what you’re signing yourself up for. Read books and articles, or better yet, as your doctor about what a particular plan entails. For instance, intubation and feeding tubes might only be effective up to a certain point.
2. Talk to your loved ones
Once you’ve determined what you want and how you’re going to live out your remaining days, the next thing you need to do is to inform everyone in your circle. The last thing you want to do is to keep it a secret. Otherwise, no one will know how to implement your wishes. ;
Make sure to have a candid conversation with your family, especially when it comes to medical emergencies. When you’re incapacitated, your next-of-kin will make decisions for you, so you want to make sure that their decisions reflect what you want.
There are two things you need to talk about: your advance directive and your healthcare proxy. The advance directive is a document that outlines what healthcare professionals can and cannot do in the event of incapacitation or death. Your healthcare proxy is the person you’ve appointed to carry out your wishes.
3. Know when to get palliative care
There are two words that you are going to hear a lot: palliative care. It’s a type of medical care designed to improve your quality of life, whether through symptom management or emotional counseling. Many people with serious illnesses ask for palliative care when their quality of life has degraded to the point that it becomes unbearable.
Studies have shown that palliative care has improved patient outcomes, particularly for people with serious and terminal illnesses. Patients that receive palliative care are more likely to have better moods and a more positive outlook on life, even if the prognosis is grim. It can also help you make better decisions, alleviate your symptoms, and even extend your life.
4. Talk to your doctors
Once you’ve informed your family about your end-of-life plans, the next person you need to inform is your doctor. They can guide you through the next steps and supply you with the information you need to make an informed decision.
A final word
Support and planning can go a long way in preparing for the end of life. Healthcare professionals arm us with the knowledge we need to make the right decisions, while our friends and family’s love and support ensure that we get the emotional comfort we need in our final days.