No one wants to think about what the last days of their life will be like,
but preparing now can make things much easier for you and your loved ones
when that time inevitably comes.
End-of-life planning involves
thinking about and making a plan for all the things that you’d like to
happen in your final days and beyond. There are medical, financial,
emotional, spiritual, and practical concerns to consider, but they all come
down to making sure that your wishes are followed.
Think about your goals
you consider what the end of your life will look like, it’s important to prioritize your goals. What types of medical
interventions do you want to receive? Would you like to be kept alive as
long as possible? Or would you prefer to pass away at home? Are there
specific people you’ll want to reconnect with or say goodbye to at that
time? As you think about your end-of-life care, try to consider your own
emotional state and how you’ll want to reflect on the life you have led.
Commit your plan to writing
It’s impossible to know exactly how the final days of your life will play
out, so it’s important to have any plans
committed in writing. Someone you trust, such as a family member, should be aware of them so
they can be given to any doctors who are providing treatment. You may want
to consider giving someone power of attorney, which allows them to act on
your behalf if you are unable to do so.
A living will is also recommended. This document will spell out your
medical treatment preferences and can capture other advanced directives,
such as orders around resuscitation. Check the laws in your area; your
wishes almost always must be committed to writing, but may or may not need
to be reviewed by an attorney as well.
Consider your culture and loved ones
think about those around you. Even if you’ve planned for your own care, your family and the cultural or
spiritual traditions you are a part of are important. Think about how you
would want to say goodbye, and if there are any important services or
traditions you’d like to partake in. Those you leave behind will naturally
grieve your passing, and considering them in your own planning can help
make that process a little easier for them.
Plan for after you’re gone
Planning for your end of life will allow you to leave a legacy. If you have
any pets, who will care for them? Do you have any money set aside that a
charitable organization or family members would benefit from? With good
planning, the people and causes you cared most about during your life will
be taken care of long after you’re gone. It can make thinking about end of
life easier to know there are pieces of you that will live on.
End-of-life planning can feel depressing and even fatalistic, but it is
essential to ensure that your family and caregivers make the decisions you
want and that your preferences are respected.