The decision to begin hospice end-of-life care for a loved one can be difficult and delicate. But once the hospice decision is made there are many additional decisions and preparations to consider. Those considerations include directives regarding medical procedures, wills and other legal documents related to estate planning, and, ultimately, funeral and cemetery arrangements. Often, it may be most important to prepare for the emotional and financial needs of those left behind.
Talking about the above issues will be awkward and uncomfortable for both family and patient, but they include important details that should not be put off to the last minute or left to that most stressful and emotional period that will immediately follow a loved one’s passing.
How to Start the End-Of-Life Preparation Conversation:
Even though you’ve enrolled in hospice care you don’t have to, nor should you, commit to the idea that the end-of-life for a loved one is imminent. Inevitable, yes. But hospice service is not a death sentence. It is essentially a responsible measure to maximize comfort and minimize suffering for those with life-threatening illness and to not extending suffering or discomfort. Patients can recover, however, and the family can be realistic without losing hope altogether. There is a healthy emotional balance and psychological approach.
Consider holding a meeting with the patient and adult family members that begins by emphasizing that hope is everyone’s first preference but preparing for the worst is the responsible action to take today. Consider telling the patient that, “We love you, we want you to be with us as long as you can, but we all need to be prepared for the day when you leave us, whenever that may be.”
The following is a list of links to information resources:
Who to leave material possessions and other valuable belongings to. This includes real-estate, bank accounts, stocks and other investments, cars, pets, etc.
State Bar of Arizona http://www.azbar.org/legalhelpandeducation/consumerbrochures/willsandtrusts
Living Will/Healthcare Directives:
The patients preferences for medical procedures and allocating the decision making process to others.
ARIZONA Advance Directive: http://www.caringinfo.org/files/public/ad/Arizona.pdf
Power of Attorney:
Allocating others to make legal and financial decisions for the patient if they are unable to do so on their own.
Notes: Wills, Living Trust, Living Wills and Power of Attorney documents can be created online for a substantially lower cost if your needs are basic and uncomplicated. Most of these legal documents have provisions that will be specific to Arizona state and Maricopa county law.
Funeral and Cemetery Arrangements:
Funeral service arrangements, casket and burial or cremation service.
How Social Security Can Help You When a Family Member Dies
Our staff of professional hospice care givers at Family Comfort Hospice can answer questions and provide help in planning for a loved one’s end-of-life.