Tags – Planning Ahead for End of Life
It’s not a topic that many of us like to think about, but planning ahead for end of life is an important step that everyone should take.
By preparing for the end of our lives, we can make sure that our loved ones are taken care of and that our final wishes are carried out.
In this guide, we will talk through how you can speak with your friends and family, how to plan for future care and practical considerations to take into account.
All in all, it’s important to do what’s right for you, when it feels right, but being well informed can help you feel more in control.
Talking to Friends and Family
It is essential to communicate your wishes and preferences with family and friends as you approach the end of your life.
This can be a tough situation, but the following ideas may be helpful:
- Let your family know ahead of time what you want to talk about so they aren’t caught off guard
- Choose a time and location where you won’t be disturbed or hurried
- Don’t worry about trying to cover everything all at once
- To guarantee that you cover everything you want to talk about, write notes ahead of time about what you wish to discuss
- If any of you become emotional, don’t be embarrassed. Be forthcoming and honestly discuss all of your emotions, not simply the positive ones
Family and friends may be hesitant to talk about this subject, perhaps because they don’t want to dwell on your death or that they are afraid of making the wrong comments. It may be beneficial for family and loved ones to inform them that it will help you to talk.
Keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong way to begin these conversations.
Choose the individuals you want to speak with, and only provide as much information as you feel comfortable with. And if you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine too.
Talking to Your Doctor
If you have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, talk to your doctor about any questions, worries or fears you and your family and friends may have.
The doctor should describe your problem and treatment choices in a way that you can understand and respond to any inquiries you have.
You may choose how much or little information you receive – keep in mind that it’s OK if you don’t want all of it at once. It can be useful to discuss the following topics:
- What to expect as your illness progresses
- The pros and cons of your treatment
- Any treatments you don’t want
- Your life expectancy
- Where you would like to die
- The different methods of pain relief available
- The practical and emotional support available
- The physical and emotional changes you might experience
It’s difficult to comprehend everything at once, so ask your doctor to repeat anything you don’t understand.
If your doctor permits, you may find it beneficial to take notes or record the conversation.
Alternatively, you could bring a family member or close friend to appointments with you to help you remember the information and offer emotional support.
Depending on your situation, you may be able to contact a helpline staffed by professional nurses and advisors who can offer you practical suggestions and emotional support.
- Macmillan Cancer Support
- The British Lung Foundation for people with COPD
- Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK for those affected by dementia
Planning for Future Care
Advance care planning is a type of end-of-life preparation.
It entails anticipating how you want to be cared for if you are unable to make decisions for yourself in the future.
Advance care planning consists of:
- Having conversations with your family and medical team about your condition and how you would like to be cared for as it progresses
- Making an advance statement of wishes that tells those involved in your care how you would like to be cared for
- Making an advance decision to refuse treatment in specific circumstances, which is legally binding and must be followed by all those involved in your care
- Creating a Lasting Power of Attorney which gives someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf if you were no longer able to do so
In certain regions, there are local registries that contain vital information regarding people’s dying wishes.
If your doctor or medical team knows of a local register in your area, they should inform you about it and inquire whether you wish to be added to it. The register may be accessed by approved personnel, including your doctor, an out-of-hours doctor, palliative care providers, and paramedics. It is intended to ensure that everyone involved in your care is aware of your preferences and desires.
Financial and Practical Considerations to Consider
It’s a good idea to store important papers in a secure location and inform your caregivers, family members, or the executor of your will where they are.
This might make things simpler for them down the road. This includes your:
- Birth certificate
- Driving licence
- Bank account details
- Pension plans
- Insurance policies
If you have an internet bank account, your executors can request that it be shut down and the money paid out to them.
Don’t leave your passwords or PIN numbers on paper because if someone uses these they may be committing a crime.
And it’s also important to consider what will happen to your digital legacy after you die if you use the internet to pay bills, shop, or communicate with friends.
The Law Society recommends maintaining a current list of all your online accounts, along with clear instructions on what you want to happen to each account after you pass away.
For example, you may choose to deactivate certain social media accounts or would want friends or family to be able to access personal items like photographs that you have saved online.
If you have pets, you’ll want to think about what will happen if you can no longer care for them. You may know someone who is willing to assist but who cannot keep them permanently.
The Cinnamon Trust offers assistance to pet owners who want to keep their dogs at home as long as possible, such as by walking them or fostering a pet if you have a short stay in hospital.
They also have a Pet Friendly Care Home Register where you may look for care homes that welcome your pet.
When you die, the Cinnamon Trust can become responsible for lifetime care of your pet.
Dogs Trust, a charity that offers assistance to dogs and their owners in need, has a free Canine Card Scheme. If you join up with this program, Dogs Trust will transport your dog to one of its rehoming facilities where it will be cared for until it can be placed with a suitable new owner.
If you have cats, Cats Protection provides a free Cats Guardian service, through which they will care for your cat until it can be placed with a new owner.
Please get in touch today to find out more.
In the meantime, take a look at our Court of Protection solicitors here.
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