Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast

How to Prepare for a Good End of Life

November 15, 2021 Hospice Quinte Season 4 Episode 34
Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast
How to Prepare for a Good End of Life
Show Notes Transcript

Death is not something we need to fear. In fact, many people are able to die well because they think about it and plan for it ahead of time.  Learn more about how to prepare for a good end of life in this week's Changing Lives Podcast.

About Hospice Quinte
Hospice Quinte assists terminally ill individuals and their caregivers by offering them support and companionship. Visiting hospice services are offered in the person’s own home, long term care homes, retirement homes and both Belleville General and Trenton Memorial Hospitals. This care is provided by trained, experienced, and compassionate volunteers.  Bereavement support groups are also offered. There are no fees for services to patients and their families. Hospice Quinte is a registered, non-profit charity whose volunteers are the heart of the organization.  

The Hospice Quinte service area includes Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. To find out more visit HospiceQuinte.ca.

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It is never too early to start thinking about your death. It may sound strange, but the majority of deaths are not sudden accidents, they are gradual declines caused by incurable, debilitating, or hard to manage illnesses and diseases. Thankfully, death is not something we need to fear. In fact, many people are able to die well because they think about it and plan for it ahead of time. So, if you or someone you love is suffering or will suffer from a palliative illness, or if you would like to prepare for the unexpected, here are some things that can be done to prepare oneself and others for what is to come. 

            First, it is important to have in place at a Substitute Decision Maker. This is the person who will speak on your behalf and give consent for your care should you become unable to do so yourself, whether expectedly or unexpectedly. If no one is chosen by you as a Substitute Decision Maker, the responsibility will automatically fall on whoever is highest on the Substitute Decision Maker Hierarchy, which can be found on the “Speak Up Ontario” website. This makes it very important to select your Substitute Decision Maker yourself in advance.  Make sure it’s someone you trust and you tell them your wises in advance, since this is the person who will ultimately decide what is best for you

            Next, moving from hospital ward to home to care institutions, sometimes many times over, is inevitable during the end of life. To make the transitions as smooth as possible, have in place a Coordinated or Advance Care Plan. This plan contains your goals, values, beliefs, needs, and preferences for care. It is created in collaboration with the patient, health care providers, including Hospice Quinte, caregivers, and the Substitute Decision Maker. It is also continually under review as the patient’s condition and preferences progresses change. 

Not everything to prepare for a good end of life is medically related. You also need to prepare yourself and others emotionally and mentally. For example, specify who you would like around you as you near your last days and who you wish to say goodbye to in advance. For those you care for but who will not be there in your last days, call or visit them in advance. Notify them of your declining health and bring closure to the relationship by minimizing regrets, reminiscing, and saying an intimate goodbye. 

            Lastly, remember things are just things, but they can be a burden to those who must sort through them once you’ve passed. If you are or will be in palliative care, consider offering small gifts to loved ones as a memento of your love. Little tokens can mean a lot to the giver and the receiver, and helps lessen the load on loved ones following your death. A similar activity is to create a memory box. Whether that means writing letters to your loved ones, creating a scrapbook of your favourite memories, or having your life story captured, a memory box can be a meaningful keepsake and help you reflect on your life and process your death. If this is something you wish to do, one of our visiting volunteers at Hospice Quinte would love to help you create your memory box and offer any emotional and practical support to you and your family. Our volunteers want to help you and your loved ones in any way that they can.  

Ultimately, a good end of life is going to look different for every person. While it may be a difficult thing to do, thinking about how to prepare yourself and your loved ones for a good end of life is important. It not only gives you peace now, knowing you are well taken care of, and helps you feel most comfortable in your last days, but it also helps your loved ones that will be surrounding you and caring for you. Caring for someone with a palliative or debilitating illness is exhausting at the best of times. Make it easier on those you love by preparing for a good end of life now, because death can be beautiful even as it is heartbreaking.  

Since 1985, Hospice Quinte has been changing the lives of the terminally ill, their families, and the bereaved for the better by offering support and companionship through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte services are provided at no charge by compassionate and well-trained volunteers and staff. Our service area includes Belleville, Quinte West, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. As a charitable not-for-profit organization, Hospice Quinte relies on its relationships with individuals, business, and charitable foundations in the community. Without the generosity of our donors, Hospice Quinte’s work could not be possible.