What Everyone Should Know About End-of-Life Care
End-of-life care is still a pretty touchy subject for a lot of people. People do not take the conversation about the near passing of a loved one lightly. This is not a topic that should be handled with the utmost delicacy and genuineness to ensure the best care for the patient.
Death is inevitable, but it is still a difficult reality to face nonetheless. To decide on plans for the days surrounding a family member's death is an emotionally loaded task. End-of-life care provides support and assistance not just to the patient but the family members who are going through the tough situation as well.
What is End-of-Life Care
End-of-life care pertains to the medical care, support, and assistance that is given to a person surrounding their final moments. With every patient, the duration of the care may differ since some can still live under the medication and close monitoring for days, weeks, and even months before they finally give out. Knowing what specific care and how to administer it to a patient can be difficult and overwhelming to a family member, that is why professional caregivers are asked to provide support and care instead.
Most people who go under this care are people with terminal illnesses and are under circumstances when their choices are slim and that the next stage is already inevitable. Common situations are when the patient frequents the hospital but there is no sign of favorable progress on their condition or the illness keeps on progressing despite given medical attention. Some patients choose to decline all medical treatments and medicines together and decide to stay home and live out their final days instead of the hospital.
Still, the final decision depends heavily on the patient, with the support and approval of the doctor. Care in the final days of life involves a team of medical professionals who monitor the condition of the patient closely. They are highly trained and skilled in handling this difficult situation.
Their main objective is to make sure that the final days of a person will become as smooth as possible, lessening pain, complications, and unnecessary suffering. They provide a reprieve to a family who chooses to give the best care to a person whose days are already numbered.
When to Consider End-of-Life Care
Determining when it is the right time to get end-of-life care coincides with the realization that there isn't much to be done to improve a patient's health and situation. Most of the feedback is from the recommendation of a doctor. It usually can happen at the late stages of the most incurable illnesses like Alzheimer's disease and cancer.
Advancing age is already a pressing factor, as well as incapacity of a patient to receive further treatment. When they attempt to cure a person that is already futile that even the patient himself no longer wants to accept it, the end-of-life care can help the family still provide the best care while the patient lives out his final days.
No matter how factual the case is, the decision to enter this phase is never easy. There is an acceptance of the pending event that a person could already die anytime. The emotional and physical demand of caring for a loved one who is about to face death could be draining, but people always want to still give their best.
A continuous effort to provide the best care can be further reinforced by having a team of professionals who will guide in every step of the way, taking most of the labor away from the family so they can have the final days focusing on their bond and personal goodbyes.
Some families decide to provide the final care themselves but finding out sooner that a health professional on the team can make the situation easier to bear, at least in terms of knowing exactly what to do when discomfort and pain overwhelm the patient anytime. A caregiver by their side can ensure that everything on the medical side is taken care of while the family and other close friends provide emotional, spiritual, and psychological support.
Patients Needs in this Stage
What a patient needs at this stage varies from one person to person, but it is mostly the presence of everyone they love. When a person is about to face their death, there is a desire to say goodbye to every person they care about. Allowing them to do so can give them a bit of reprieve that can ease their passing, leaving no unfinished business behind.
The reality that the person is not well and not at his natural physical state is also something that needs consideration. They are going to experience a lot of pain from the withdrawal of their medication and other treatments.
One of the aims is not to let them suffer any further while they are trying to enjoy the remaining days. Pain can bring so much discomfort to pain, and people who are watching their loved ones in distress can also feel painful emotionally.
Managing pain in this stage is one of the tasks a caregiver is responsible for. They work closely with a doctor who recommends pain management medication without causing long term repercussions and dependence. This simply is done to bring comfort to a patient, so they don't have to unnecessarily suffer and waste their days away.
Other problems that can agitate a patient are breathing problems, skin irritation, temperature sensitivity, and fatigue. It is much easier to have someone who can address these problems right aways than getting on the phone constantly with your doctor or the emergency department.
Aside from practical care and assistance, end-of-life care can provide a sense of dignity to a patient as they don't need to feel ashamed and embarrassed about their needs in front of their loved ones. They can manage their connections better. These professionals can also provide grief support should the inevitable event finally take place.
One of the focuses of the final days is to ensure that a loved one passes in love, peace, and comfort. The biggest responsibility of a caregiver is to provide hospice and palliative care within the comfort zone of a patient, typically done in their home or a special facility. This way, they can easily do what they have to do and have people they want to see anytime. They would often have visitors who want to show their final respects, love, and care.
Providing the means to do this can leave patients braver in facing what is about to happen. They also have the chance to fix and clear whatever issue and the problem are still in the air. As a family, supporting their need to clear their mind is at utmost urgency.
Aside from giving medical attention to the patient, a caregiver's responsibility is to take as much of the intense caring demands away from the family so they can only enjoy the final moments together. The team must provide all the necessary care especially if a patient is unable to have enough physical strength to walk, look after themselves, and make sense of the world.
Seeing a loved one in this state can bring shock and pain that a person may not be able to perform their duties that well. A person who can deal with providing care without being emotionally absorbed is a better person for the job.
Preparation for the Family
The preparation of the family mostly focuses on providing the last efforts to give comfortable days to the final moments of their loved one. The best care is the goal though it is also one requiring much financial allocation. This is one of the preparations that can make a family thoroughly decide on the next best step.
Since end-of-life care is still the best option, they can look into what their capacity can best afford them. Some options will enable a family to choose a place where the care can be given.
Going to a special housing facility is one of the most costly options, but a family can also decide to do it at home while having a team come over instead. This is practical as well as a preferred choice since the patient can live closely with their loved ones.
Another preparation a family has something to do is the grief that will follow. As much as they need to focus on the patient, they also have to deal with their very own process as well, and ensuring that they can focus on this is one of the help a team of caregivers can extend.
Aside from that, a family has to make some final decisions including arrangements after the passing of the person and the settlement of everything at the end of the process. All of these should be done while trying to make the best last days.
Considerations on Values, Beliefs, and Legality
Though the patient needs are mostly in physical and emotional aspects, they also need to deal with their spiritual needs as they near the end. Many patients rely on their faith to find solace and comfort because this can give them security on the uncertainty of the next stage.
As a family, they have to set aside their own beliefs and focus on what a person needs to ease their worries and calm their minds. On their part, they can provide insights on their relationships to help their loved one find meaning in their life, something they can carry on as a source of their strength as their final days' approach.
End-of-life care is also a controversial subject to some beliefs and context. You can only avail of services that are approved by the law and have it in a stage that is acceptable by the norms and beliefs of the culture.
It cannot be done against the common law and belief system, especially when the decision is seen as a deprivation of a person's right to healthcare and treatment. There is a lot of advice needed to carry this out as smoothly as possible and it is best to consult a legal adviser and a medical professional as well.
Impact on a Family
The fact that you are entering end-of-life care has a great impact on a family. They are faced with the definite reality that their loved one is living out their final days, and there is not much to be done to reverse the situation. Coping with pressure, emotional pain, and grief can be done with support as well.
This specific care not only provides support to a patient but their families as well. Health professionals can fully explain what is happening at any stage, so families are not left clueless and in the dark should an emergency happen at any time. They can also better understand a situation to avoid any form of guilt or regret from forming in a loved one's mind.
The team can also ensure that no further trauma can happen around a patient's family that will leave them in a more painful grieving process. The goal is to let the final days pass as peacefully as possible.
A family that is under end-of-life care can rely on the team to provide the best quality of care while they confront the pending reality of their loss. As much as the care is beneficial to the patient, the family also experiences advantages because they don't have to worry about things that are beyond their skill or capability.
Should any member have any questions, they can readily ask the caregiver to provide a sense of clearance from them. They better understand what is happening in their current situation and they can better move on knowing that they have given their best.
End-of-life care is a way a patient and family can find a sense of reprieve no matter how trying and painful the reality is. The care and presence of healthcare professionals to tend with every need and problem can help both sides in making the best out of their remaining days together. It is a crucial time and focusing on the more important things like quality time and goodbyes can leave peace and comfort to the patient and their family as well.