Preparing for the End of Life
Planning ahead and making your end-of-life wishes known is an important gift to the people you love. When we know the wishes of our loved ones, it reduces the emotional and physical pain and family conflict that can occur when they remain unspoken. These conversations can be difficult, so they are often best to have while we are still fit and healthy. Unfortunately, most of us wait too long.
The end-of-life period is now considered to include the period from which there is no recovery or cure. This period involves a shift in the type of health care provided from cure to care. It is important to be prepared in advance. Not all of us, however, have a written plan naming someone to act as our health care proxy in the event that we cannot speak for ourselves. And, even fewer of us have a written plan describing what our preference is for treatment at the end of life. Planning ahead helps to ease the stress and best utilize the time remaining to say goodbyes, and live life to the fullest.
Each of us needs to take the time to discover this on our own and then to discuss it with family to ensure that they know and understand our wishes and choices. Ultimately, we must put pen to paper and have a written document filed with a physician, BHB, a lawyer, spouse, children and/or other loved ones or close family friends.
By planning and being prepared in advance of ill health, we can ensure that we really live until we die.The goal is not a good death but a good life, all the way to the very end.
So, take that first step and know you are not alone when you take it.
How to start
You must think about your end of life desires and then communicate them to those you love and who may be caring for you. People who have had these conversations say they are the most meaningful heart-to-heart conversations of their lives.
Decide on what you want and tell those close to you: Written guides are available to help you think about what matters to you most for the end of your life. The guides below are also excellent tools to help you have the conversation with others to find out what they want when the time comes. Communicating your choices helps to assure that you can live your life fully, calmly, and with your wishes respected, until the very end.
Here are some helpful links:
The Conversation Project Guides:
If you are looking for direction or support as an individual, health care professional or as an organization on how to have these conversations, Friends of Hospice is here to help: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 232-0859.
The next step is writing down your wishes to help ensure they are respected at the end of your life.
Writing down your choices does not mean they are written in stone, you can change your mind and revise the documents whenever you like. Be sure to tell your loved ones that you have changed your decisions, so that you are all up to date. You can also video yourself on your cellphone or your tablet, clearly stating your choices, and then email the link for that video to a trusted person.
There different types of documents available to record your wishes for end of life care, they include:
An Advance Directive This document describes the types of medical care you would or would not want to receive. It is also called a Living Will.
A Health Care Proxy This document names the person who is responsible for making your medical care decisions if you are unable to speak for yourself.
A Durable/Enduring Power of Attorney This document specifies the trusted person who can handle your financial matters if you are unable to manage them yourself. This person will also need to know where all of your important documents are kept.
Will A Will protects your loved ones from lengthy probate delays and often helps to reduce the taxes paid on your assets. A do-it-yourself Will is available from the Stationery Store in Hamilton and is legal if properly signed, dated and witnessed. You MUST be mentally competent, as determined by your doctor, at the time that your Will is made. The average cost of an attorney in Bermuda for writing your will is approximately $1,500.
Organ donation It is a great gift to your loved ones to know your choice about Organ donation.
Funeral wishes It is a great relief to your loved ones to know your funeral choices.
Re-read your documents periodically to see if they are still accurate. If you make changes, be sure to tell your loved ones so that everyone is up to date.