According to several studies, roughly 70% of Americans say they hope to reach the end of life in the comfort of home, surrounded by their loved ones. But in reality, more than two-thirds die in hospitals or care facilities. One reason is that only a few of us actually create an end of life care plan.
Creating a plan has a real and measurable impact on the end of life process. During the final days of life, those who’ve planned ahead spend less time in hospitals. Care planning also relieves much of the stress and pressure faced by family members. What’s more, by taking care of important decisions ahead of time, it provides families more time to spend with one another during these precious last days.
Despite this, only one in five Americans will create an end of life care plan in time. So if you’d like to start planning for how your care will be handled at this stage, here are the steps that you’ll need to take.
Think About What You Want from End of Life Care
End of life care planning starts with careful consideration about how you want your final days and moments handled.
- What will your biggest priorities be?
- What kind of medical care do you want to receive?
- What kind of care don’t you want to receive?
- When does your comfort become more important than attempting to extend your life?
At the same time, think about who you want to be caring for you during this time and making important decisions about your care.
- Will you have family taking care of you?
- Professional care staff?
- A mix of both?
- And who is a suitable choice for power of attorney?
Consult with Your Doctor, Caregivers, and Family
Once you’ve considered what you’d like your end of life care plan to look like, you’ll need to speak with the people who will make that plan work: your doctor, your caregivers, and your family.
At this stage, you’ll be accomplishing two important things:
- First, you’ll be making your wishes clear in advance, keeping those close to you in the loop.
- Second, you’ll get valuable input on how to make your plan workable for you and those you love.
At this stage, you’ll want to have the following kinds of conversations:
- Talking with your doctor about the types of advance medical directives you want as part of your plan, including which procedures get performed under what circumstances.
- Discuss with end of life caregiving specialists how care can be planned for a wide range of persons and situations, and how it can be tailored to your unique situation.
- Talking with close family about who you’d like to award power of attorney, how you’d like to spend your final days with them, and what you can do to facilitate this.
Develop Your End of Life Care Plan in Writing
Once you’ve thought through what you’d like your plan to look like and have consulted with the people who matter most, you’ll need to develop the finer details of the plan and put it into writing. This way, there won’t be any confusion or disputes if/when your plan needs to be implemented.
Some of the core parts of your plan should be:
- Advanced medical directives for healthcare professionals
- Whether or not to sign a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) for specific circumstances
- Plans for how to handle professional caregiving if/when necessary
- Whom will be awarded power of attorney
At Visiting Angels®, we know how difficult this time is for families. That’s why we encourage you to have these difficult discussions while everyone is still healthy and can provide input and express their concerns and preferences.
We do provide end of life care to help ease the strain on families during this difficult time. Our compassionate caregivers can be there to help your family focus on spending time with each other, while we take care of housekeeping tasks, assist with personal care and hygiene needs, and provide compassionate assistance to the entire family.
If your family is in need of end of life care, contact your local Visiting Angels office today for a free consultation.