How can I convey my decisions for end-of-life care?
A review of some of the considerations and documents to put in place for end-of-life care.
What is changing about end-of-life care?
- Among prior generations, most people passed away at home after a short illness with help and care provided by family members.
- Today, advancements in health care can prolong end-of-life care, and the majority receive care in hospitals, often with treatments different from what they might have chosen.1
- However, new health technologies, palliative care options, medications, and new tools to better communicate end-of-life care wishes of the patient and family are now available to provide greater comfort and ease the burden of an illness.
What are the priorities and challenges of end-of-life care?
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation and the Economist, Views and Experiences with End-of-Life Medical Care in the U.S., 2017
- Half say it is very important to them to not burden their family during end-of-life care. Just 23% say they want to live as long as possible.
- Open communication between the patient, family, and doctors is very important to ensure end-of-life care wishes are fulfilled.
- However, end-of-life care can be a difficult and emotional topic.
- Family members may be reluctant to discuss end-of-life care, but clear communication of your wishes now is easier than leaving family to handle decisions during a medical crisis.
- Many do not expect to receive the end-of-life care they prefer. For example, 71% prefer to receive end-of-life care at home, but far fewer (41%) expect to.(2)
What are some documents i should have in place for end-of life care?
- Living will. Conveys wishes and priorities for end-of-life medical care.
- Durable power of attorney for health care. Designates a person to make health care decisions when the person can no longer do so.
- Durable power of attorney for finances. Names someone to make financial decisions when the person no longer can.
- Do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order. Instructs health care professionals not to resuscitate if a person’s heart stops or if they stop breathing.
- Will. Conveys how to distribute a person’s assets and estate.
- Living trust. Provides instructions about the person’s estate and appoints a trustee to hold the title to property and funds for the beneficiaries.
- Physician orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST). Describes what the patient wants in terms of medical treatment including CPR, feeding tubes, and medical interventions if the patient is not breathing or is without a pulse.
I would like to learn more about...
Options for end-of-life care
My priorities and wishes for end-of-life
Documents I should prepare for end-of-life
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2. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Economist, Views and Experiences with End-of-Life Medical Care in the U.S., 2017
This publication is designed to provide general information and is for discussion purposes only. The effectiveness of any strategy is dependent upon each individual’s facts and circumstances. This article does not provide legal, tax or account advice. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error, the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information is not guaranteed.