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How to Start Planning for End of Life Care 

End of Life Care  Serious or terminal medical conditions are never planned for but will certainly change everything in your life.

It can lead to a very intense and tough conversation about end-of-life care and what treatment you may want if you become impaired. While difficult, planning now will ensure your wishes are followed if you become incapacitated later.

This quick guide can start you on the journey to forming this plan. Continue reading to learn more.

What Is Palliative Care?

Hope is often the strongest cure for any medical condition. Talking about and planning for end-of-life care does not mean you have lost hope. It just means you want to have a plan.

Part of that plan could be palliative care. What is palliative care? It is a medical specialty that centers on coping with serious illnesses. It is specifically built for those who have continued treatment but still need help with pain, stress, and symptom management. The goal is to have expert assistance to assess, anticipate, and alleviate symptoms that impact your quality of life.

End of Life Care  What Is an Advance Directive?

In the event that you are seriously ill or unable to speak for yourself, your advance directive can do the talking. It gives healthcare providers necessary information on your preferred treatment while incapacitated. It is composed of two parts: a living will and power of attorney.

Living Will

The living will defines your preferred medical treatments, including giving permission for certain treatments. It lets doctors and family members know what interventions you want - or do not want. It also helps doctors and medical professionals know what you want and eases the burden on your family and healthcare team.

Medical Power of Attorney

The second half of an advance directive gives a proxy flexibility in decisions. A proxy representative will be granted medical power of attorney to speak for you if you are incapacitated due to injury, illness, or other debilitation. Ideally, this is someone who is emotionally and mentally capable of making hard healthcare decisions and will follow your values and preferences. You will want to maintain close communication with this person so they understand your feelings and wishes.

How to Start the Conversation

The hardest part about this process will just be talking it through with yourself, loved ones, and the healthcare team. While medical professionals are trained to help in this arena, some conversations are between family.

If you are struggling with this conversation, start with yourself. Ask yourself:

End of Life Care  What If You Have a Terminal Condition?

If there was no reasonable probability of recovery or known cure, what would you do? What life-saving measures or treatments would you be willing to try and which would you refuse?

What If You Were Unable to Decide?

What if the condition impacts your mental ability and you are unable to make decisions for yourself? What if you fall into a coma? Who would you trust to make decisions on your behalf?

Who Would Be Capable of Making Medical Decisions?

Asking someone to make medical decisions in a life or death situation is highly demanding. Is the loved one you are considering capable of handling the mental and emotional strain? Do they know what your wishes are?

The Bottom Line

Even at the end of life, you have options. Whether you seek palliative care or consult your doctor, there are people to help in this journey. The most difficult part is just having a conversation. Roughly one in three Americans have some sort of living will or advance directive. This means two out of three Americans leave their family in the dark when it comes to knowing their wishes. If this guide teaches you anything it should be that it's never too early to be prepared.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 15th November 2021.

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