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Planning for a Death

In cases where someone’s passing is approaching, whether that be months, weeks or even days, there are good reasons to plan ahead.

Planning for a Death - Phaneuf

Sometimes, when death is approaching, people become more open or able to talk about their final wishes. This can be a cathartic process for a family facing the loss of someone special. This conversation can include whether the person wants to be buried or cremated, what style of funeral or memorial service they envision, who should speak, and whether or what kind of meal to be served after the services.

Having this conversation accomplishes two important objectives. First, it ensures that your loved one’s wishes are known to the family, which reduces the possibility of conflict after the passing. Sometimes, we see family members with different ideas of what the deceased “would have wanted,” which can lead to unnecessary conflict during a very difficult time. Knowing what your loved one’s wishes are alleviates that burden.

Second, making the arrangements prior to the passing means that the family has fewer details to manage during a trying time. Whether you’ve had a few weeks or a year to prepare for this loss, the days after your loved one’s passing will be exceptionally challenging.  Knowing that you’ve focused on the details prior to that time can provide a small measure of relief.

Hospice is a philosophy of care for those nearing the end of life

There’s a built-in negative connotation to the word, “hospice.” Some people hear it and think, “That’s the end. Time to die” That is not necessarily so. Entering into hospice care does mean a terminal illness is diagnosed and there is a short life expectancy.

But, the focus for caregivers is not on how to help someone die, but how to help patients live their best life for their remaining days. Hospice professionals and volunteers make the best experiences possible with a patient’s remaining time. They help you:

  • Come to closure.
  • Do the things you want to do and enjoy doing.
  • Ease your mind into a living mode as opposed to an “I’m dying” mode.

A patient’s final wishes are a huge part of hospice care. It’s more about what patients will receive than what gets taken away. You may no longer be able to drive, but if seeing a live musical is on your bucket list, caregivers will do their best to get you a seat – or bring a singer to you, if you’re not well enough to travel.

Planning for a Death - Phaneuf
Planning for a Death - Phaneuf

A primary goal of hospice caregivers is discovering what is most important to you and how to make that happen. It’s about:

  • Spending more time with your children and grandchildren
  • Getting in the car, going to the beach and having a chocolate ice cream cone
  • Picking strawberries
  • Going on one more great fishing trip
  • Sewing a baby blanket

Hospice professionals also do a lot of hospice benefit outreach education with healthcare professionals. Patients may open up to their doctor before a family member, asking, “Do I want to continue this treatment? I’m not sure I want to keep going to the hospital all the time.” When a patient opens that door, it’s beneficial to know all options, including hospice care.

Variety of Hospice Care Services

Hospice services vary for each patient. Benefits may include medical and social services, nursing aides, homemaker services, counseling, medications for pain and managing the disease, and therapies ranging from physical to speech.

Roles of the hospice team include, but are not limited to:

  • Managing patient pain and other symptoms
  • Providing medications and medical devices
  • Instructing the family on caring for the patient
  • Delivering services such as speech and physical therapy
  • Providing inpatient care when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home, or the caregiver needs respite time
  • Assisting the patient and family members with the emotional, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of dying
  • Providing grief support and counseling to the family

It’s important to educate those we care about on what hospice is really about – living as fully as possible with symptoms managed. It’s a much easier conversation to have when someone is not already in crisis mode. Here are some questions or conversation starters you can use to begin the talk about hospice:

  • “What thoughts wake you in the middle of the night?”
  • “Hopefully, you won’t need this any time soon, but let’s chat about hospice care options.”
  • “Did you know most hospice patients receive care for about three months?”
  • “Let’s talk about it so neither you or I have to lie awake thinking about it.”
Planning for a Death - Phaneuf

Please request our pre-planning brochure to get the best advice and pricing on your end-of-life selections.

Free Hospice Guide

These facts about hospice care will surprise you.

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