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The Pursuit Of A Good Death

Death is Inevitable

It is how you go, what you did in the time you had here, and how you are remembered which is important.

Death is a significant, normal part of life that all humans will eventually experience. For centuries,people have sought what is known as a “good death” where they are physically comfortable, treated with care and respect, and able to find peace with how they want to live their life. While managing physical pain at the end of life is crucial, the emotional and spiritual suffering can be even harder. When the end of life comes, having proper medical, emotional and spiritual care available can help people face
death with less fear and anxiety.

As we age, we have to reconsider and accept who we are now, and think seriously about how we want to live throughout our last chapters. Fortunately, there are people, places, and organizations that are taking a serious look at how to improve quality care, and some are making strides in the right direction. As we get older, we can become better advocates for ourselves—and our loved ones—and can begin to understand the many choices we will have to face, and take some responsibility for ensuring our wishes are met. Making decisions for someone at the end of life can be difficult.

End-of-life care refers to care for people with advanced disease once they have reached a point where their health has declined considerably. This tends to happen in the last few weeks or months of life. Like palliative and hospice care in general, end of life care mainly focuses on making the patient and their family as comfortable as possible during this difficult time before death. Doctors and nurses try their best to relieve pain and other physical, mental, social and spiritual suffering through the end of the patient’s life. The goal is to improve the patient’s quality of life while recognizing that a cure is not possible at this advanced stage of illness. The care team provides emotional and practical support to help the patient live as fully and with as little suffering as possible during this final chapter.

Death Is A Normal, The Key Is A Good Death

What to do when a loved one is dying?

Being devoid of emotional and spiritual weight, including the fear of death, was deemed indispensable in guaranteeing the patient’s remaining days are spiritually ‘painless’. Letting go of worries and concerns over one’s fate was seen as pivotal for experiencing peace and tranquility in one’s last days.

Honor your loved ones wishes.

As individuals approach the end of their lives, their personal wishes and desires hold the utmost  importance. If a patient expresses a desire to spend their remaining time at home surrounded by loved ones instead of in a medical facility, every attempt should be made to accommodate that request. If certain medications, treatments or procedures go against a patient’s values or spiritual beliefs, they should not be pushed upon them. Caregivers must prioritize truly listening to patients and understanding what is most important to them, which will vary from person to person.  This is the time to understand we all die.  Your loved one knows this, and has accepted what is coming.  Let them determine how they  wish to die and how they wish to be remembered.

Don’t underestimate the importance of Spirituality and emotional well being.

Find the right type of care:

There are different things that can be done as a person approaches end of life. Find out if there is an advanced directive or living will. If one doesn’t exist, and your loved one still has the ability to make their needs known, start and complete a living will and advanced directive. These documents outline what a person wants done in the last stages of life, which treatments they are open to and more importantly how they want to die. It is important we are allowed to dictate how we wish to spend our last moments on this Earth, however that may be. Talk with the person’s health care team to find the best ways to help manage their comfort and ease any suffering. As we near the end of our lives, it is important to communicate our wishes and needs to our loved ones and medical caregivers so they can honor our preferences and provide the type of care that aligns with what is most important to us.

So what is hospice?

The goal of hospice care is to provide comfort and support to people who are nearing the end of life due to a terminal illness. This allows the patient to spend their final days to months in a familiar environment surrounded by family and friends, doing the things they love. This can be done at home, in freestanding hospice facilities, hospitals, assisted living facilities and nursing homes for patients who cannot be cared for at home.

The hospice team prepares the family for what to expect during the patient’s final days. They provide education on how to recognize signs that death is near and what to do after the patient passes away. The team also offers grief counseling and bereavement support services to help family members cope with the loss of their loved one.

So what is palliative care?

On the other hand, palliative care is not simply for those nearing the end of life. Rather, it supports anyone coping with a serious health condition, such as heart failure, chronic lung disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, or others. Palliative care can provide valuable support at any stage of a serious illness and is most effective when started as soon as possible after diagnosis. The goal is to improve a person’s quality of life by relieving suffering through expert assessment and treatment of pain, other physical symptoms, and psychological and spiritual distress. Patients can pursue curative care while on palliative care while on hospice this is usually not possible.

Find a Guiding Light During This Difficult Time

Say Goodbye to Your Loved One

Caring for your whole family while dealing with an illness can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, there are ways to update everyone at once without having to call each person separately. Consider these options:

• Compile contact list of all your loved ones and send group updates whenever you have news. This makes it easy to reach everyone at the same time.

• Create a group on social media or via messaging apps where you can post status updates, thoughts, and feelings. Your network can then comment and share encouragement.

Ask a family member to take over sending updates on your behalf. You may also want to sit down with siblings early on to divide up responsibilities that become difficult for you to handle alone. Organizing support systems in advance can lift a huge burden when you need your energy for healing.

If your parent is in hospice care, their team will teach you techniques to keep them comfortable and will provide directions about their nutrition and medications. Utilize all the resources available to help during this challenging time and ensure your loved one experiences as little suffering as possible.

How can family members encourage healthy behaviors from afar?

Throughout the ages, people have longed for a “good death” where they are as physically comfortable as possible, treated with compassion and respect, and find meaning in concluding their lives. Many elders associate sickness with losing independence or becoming a burden on loved ones. This may explain why they don’t always convey how they truly feel. Understanding possible signs that the end may be near helps reduce anxiety and allows you to honor your aging loved ones’ wishes and desires. It could be up to you to identify signs of deteriorating health and the need for alternative care.

The last stages of life are often filled with challenges and difficulties. As individuals aged, they may experience declining health and mobility issues that make daily tasks more difficult. Family and friends who provided support in the past may no longer be around. This can leave those in their final years feeling
isolated and helpless.

Involving hospice and palliative care in your loved one’s care earlier than later may actually benefit them in addressing this isolation and allowing trained medical personnel to closely monitor your loved one. Hospice care aims to improve the quality of life for people in this situation. Hospice focuses on pain management and comfort rather than curative treatment. The goal is to make the patient as comfortable and at peace as possible. Hospice care can be provided at home, in nursing homes, hospitals or other facilities.

A key part of hospice is the emotional and spiritual support provided to the patient and their loved ones. End of life issues can stir up complex emotions, and hospice workers assist patients and families in processing these feelings. Hospice also helps connect patients to community and spiritual resources that
may provide comfort during this challenging time.

At the end, hospice care aims to enhance the quality of the dying process. It focuses on relieving suffering and providing emotional and spiritual support that honors the patient’s wishes. For those approaching the end of life’s journey, hospice can make a profound difference in providing peace and comfort during