This is the second article dealing with death and dying. The material has been freely adapted available through the Mayo Clinics.
We can choose when we die. We can choose, within reason, how we die. We can choose where we will die. But, we cannot choose not to die. Death comes to all.
Caring for a dying person isn’t easy. Even when you know the end of life is approaching, you might not feel prepared. Understanding what to expect — and what you can do to increase the person’s comfort — can help.
Most people will have choices for end-of-life care. Options might include:
Home care. Most people prefer to die at home or in the home of a family member. You can assume the role of caregiver or hire home care services for support. Hospice care — services that help ensure the highest quality of life for whatever time remains — can be provided at home as well. The purpose of hospice is to ensure people die free of pain and with dignity. In many instances, you will not pay for hospice service.
Hospice provides an on-call nurse, medications, and medical equipment. In many states hospice care is supported financially by Medicaid, and in other areas hospice care is supported by a hospital or by public gifts.
Inpatient care. Some people might prefer round-the-clock care at a nursing home, hospital or dedicated inpatient hospice facility. Hospice and palliative care — a holistic treatment approach intended to ease symptoms, relieve pain, and address spiritual and psychological concerns — can be provided in any of these environments.
Understand clearly what your family member wants at the end of life. Talk with her or his health care team or a social worker. You might ask for a referral to palliative or hospice care specialists — health care providers trained in specific care for people nearing the end of life.
Also, understand what your hospital means by “Do not resuscitate” and other terms. If your family member or friend has this phrase in their health directive, ensure everyone involved knows what is meant and how that fits into the person’s health care directive. If your loved one opts for life support, have an understanding of when you could”pull the plug”and end all treatment.
Whether you bring a dying loved one home or keep vigil at the hospital, you can take measures to provide comfort and relief at the end of life.