Some people may feel overwhelmed when planning for the future, especially regarding health. Planning helps you prepare for events that may happen, as you never know how your health can suddenly change. Your family members also may not want to discuss plans with you; this is a normal reaction. However, people who plan ahead usually feel relieved that everything is in place. They can focus on living their life instead of worrying about what’s to come.
The best time to think about the end of life arrangements is when we feel physically and mentally competent—waiting to make these decisions when a tragedy strikes can lead to uncertainty and stress. However, there may be a time when we have to decide on treatments for a loved one or vice versa. While you cannot plan for everything, having preparations in place for specific events can help ease anxiety for loved ones and ensure your wishes are carried out.
Why plan for the future?
People often say how you live your life is more important than how long you live. So an essential first step is having a transparent and honest conversation about what you want.
You can plan for your healthcare needs with your healthcare team. You could be specific about which treatments you want or not. You have the right to refuse any surgical or medical treatment. You may wish to continue receiving some treatments designed to keep you comfortable but refuse some others. If you write down the details of what you want, it can help your family and those you love to ensure that your wishes are respected as much as possible. You can also include your family and loved ones in these discussions.
Talk to others about your desires
Planning for the future can help you:
Express important messages to your loved ones.
Be prepared for what might happen.
Make things easier for your family and friends.
Deal with worries and fears you and your loved ones may have.
Know that your family will follow your wishes if there is a health crisis or it worsens.
Enjoy life knowing that essential things have been discussed.
Taking the patient’s wishes into consideration
The patient’s preferences for treatment should be written down and be easy to follow depending on everyone’s healthcare plan; this includes a durable power of attorney or a living will. For example, suppose the patient has settled their wishes about procedures or interventions that should or should not be done in the face of a life-limiting illness. In that case, the hospice team can make a care plan that sticks to the patient’s wishes while focusing on the remaining quality of time.
When does end-of-life care begin
End-of-life care is designed to help patients live the remainder of their life with dignity. At Ascend Hospice Care, we always ask about the patient’s wishes and preferences and consider these as we work with them to plan their care.