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Planning ahead

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  • Planning ahead
  • Posted date:
  • 27-07-2016
Planning ahead

Planning Ahead for Palliative Care

When you are dealing with the diagnosis of a terminal illness it can be difficult enough to cope with day to day life, without thinking about planning for the future.

However, if you are approaching the end of your life it can be a good idea to think about what sort of care you want, where you would like to spend the rest of your life and also to consider any particular wishes you have for your death. This is called advanced care planning and involves you thinking about your specific wishes for care in the last months of your life.

Why plan?

Imagine if you were to suddenly lose consciousness or the ability to make informed decisions about your life and medical care. What would you want from those that love you or care for you? 

Advance care planning can help ensure you receive the care you really want. Questions to carefully consider include whether there are any treatments that you would refuse, whether you would like to be resuscitated if your heart or breathing stops and where you would like to die, whether it as at home, in hospital or in a hospice.

All of these questions can be difficult and distressing to think about. But planning ahead will help your wishes be observed and will make things so much easier for your family when you are approaching the end of your life. You can talk to your family about your wishes or write down your preferences in an advanced care plan

Planning doesn’t just involve the plans for your health care it can also include making practical arrangements or simply saying goodbye to the people you love.

Practical planning

Talking to family, friends and your health care team will help you get the care you have chosen. However, it can also be important to complete some legal documentation to ensure your wishes are carried through. Things to consider include:

  • A living will: this is an advance decision to refuse specific treatments such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation or transfusion.
  • Appointing a lasting power of attorney: this is a trusted individual who can make financial, legal and medical choices for you, when you are no longer able to.
  • A will: this can ensure that your estate goes to the people that you choose. It can also help you specify the care that you would prefer for your children or anyone else that depends on you.
  • Funeral planning: how much you consider this is entirely up to you, there are big differences between individuals. Some people like to think about every aspect from song choice and casket to where they would like to be laid to rest. Others are more comfortable without contemplating all the details.

A message to loved ones

Taking time to write a letter saying goodbye, telling people how much they have meant to you or creating a "memory box" containing treasured memoirs can help family and friends with their grief after you die. 

But please don’t stress or worry if you don’t feel able to do this, the time you spend together, the experiences you have shared or a special hug can all provide positive reminiscences to help them during the bereavement process.

Find out more about the range of palliative care services that we offer throughout London.