According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), end-of-life care is defined thus: “End-of-life care is the term used to describe the support and medical care given during the time surrounding death. Such care does not happen only in the moments before breathing ceases and the heart stops beating. Older people often live with one or more chronic illnesses and need a lot of care for days, weeks, and even months before death.” Sometimes referred to as late-stage care, end-of-life care encompasses hospice and palliative care, which may be more familiar terms for some.
What makes end-of-life care different than normal medical care?
When you hear the term “end-of-life,” it might make you think that it’s for the very end, but as no one can predict exactly when that day will come, it’s not an exact science. To help put it into perspective, end-of-life care may be utilized after your doctor (or the doctor of your loved one) says that there are no other treatments to try and they’ve done everything they can. Although there may be no chance for a cure, there will still be medical needs, as well as mental and emotional needs. This is where end-of-life care comes in.
Who needs end-of-life care?
Of course there are always some people that beat the odds, but the truth is that each one of us will die someday. It’s best to be comfortable physically, mentally, emotionally and otherwise when that day does come. In today’s world and the Western culture in particular, people don’t like thinking about death and its inevitability. However, when people and their loved ones can plan ahead with end-of-life care, it helps to minimize stress and makes the whole experience more positive for everyone involved.
The following situations describe people who would benefit from end-of-life care:
In reality, the decision to obtain end-of-life care remains with you and your loved ones; no one can decide when the time is right except you.
What does end-of-life care include?
Even though your loved one may no longer be responding to any treatments for their condition, they will still need medical care to keep them physically comfortable. End-of-life care also tends to take a more holistic approach in order to provide for all possible needs: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Here are the main things end-of-life care offers, according to HelpGuide:
End-of-life care can be invaluable to the patient as well as their family and loved ones, but the cost can also be overwhelming. To find out more about how you can get help covering such end-of-life planning, visit our Get Help page.
Ms. Harris is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys reading, triathlons, and baking.