What to expect from end-of-life care and a few important things to consider

1 Mar 2018

You may have heard of end-of-life care and feel like you don’t know much about it. Or perhaps you or a loved one are approaching the end of life and you’re wondering how to make plans. 

You may have heard of end-of-life care and feel like you don’t know much about it. Or perhaps you or a loved one are approaching the end-of-life and you’re wondering how to make plans. This guide features information about what to expect from end-of-life care and a few important things to consider. 

What is end-of-life care? 

End-of-life care is a key part of palliative care (care for people living with an incurable, terminal illness), for people who are approaching the end of their life. Generally, end-of-life care is for those in the final months or years of their life, although the exact timeframe is often difficult to predict. end-of-life care can continue for as long as the individual requires. 

End-of-life care is there to help people live as well as they possibly can during the time they have left, and when the time comes, to pass away with dignity. It can also relate to the treatment they receive during this time, as well as any additional support, including help with legal affairs. 

What to expect from end-of-life care 

Those who are nearing the end of their life are entitled to a high standard of care, no matter where they’re being looked after. 

The best end-of-life care is tailored to meet the needs of the individual. You and your loved ones should also play the central role in the decisions about your care – it shouldn’t be decided for you by others. 

When it comes to creating a personalised plan for your care, it really helps if your wishes are written down. If you agree to it, this can then be shared among the people involved in caring for you. Just remember to review your plan on a regular basis, so you’re certain that everything is up to date and in line with what you want. 

In terms of deciding where you receive care and where you want to die, you have the right to make your wishes known. Depending on your circumstances, you can be cared for in the comfort of your own home, in a care home, hospice, or hospital. It all depends on your individual needs and circumstances. The staff in charge of your end-of-life care must show respect for you and your wishes, and they also have an obligation to act kindly at all times. What’s more, they should be there to provide support to your family and other people who matter to you. 

In addition, your comfort and dignity are an absolute priority, with no exceptions. To give you an example, in the last days of your life, it’s up to you whether you feel like having something to eat or drink. Even if your food and fluid needs are being met in some other way (like through a feeding tube or drip), these kinds of decisions will be yours and yours alone. 

The importance of planning ahead 

We know that end-of-life care isn’t the easiest thing to talk about, but you really shouldn’t underestimate the importance of writing your wishes down. It’s important to reiterate that a written record of your exact wishes can provide a valuable basis for a personalised end-of-life care plan – and it can help make sure you get the kind of care you want. 

In addition, planning ahead can really make life easier for your partner and your family – and that can be particularly important at what will inevitably be a difficult time for them. Even if you’re not nearing the end of your life, it can be wise to have open conversations with the people you love about the kind of care you’d like to receive if the time ever comes.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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