Receiving a diagnosis that a loved one is terminally ill is never an easy situation for a family member to accept. However, there are many hard choices that have to be made in the event that a terminal illness should occur. Having to make these hard choices on top of grieving for the prognosis of their loved one is often times too much for any family to handle at once. While dealing with the terminal illness of a family member is never an easy thing to do, making some of the end-of-life decisions before a need arises can help alleviate some of the stress, grief, and guilt associated with having to make them on the spur of the moment.

End-of-life choices have to do with a client’s wishes regarding being resuscitated in the event of organ failure, being placed on a ventilator if unable to breath on their own, and the use of feeding tubes to sustain life. Many people do not want any assistance at all when their health deteriorates to the point of need. They would rather die peacefully and on their own instead of being kept alive by machines. In the case of an elderly loved one, it is important that the family discuss these things with the loved one to ensure that their final wishes have been granted. Although it is a hard topic to approach, doing so is a must to ensure their elderly loved one’s dignity and respect in their final hours.

Advance directives are written documents that express a person’s last wishes for care in the event that they are no longer to speak or communicate them in an effective manner. These, of course, are drawn up long before the need arises and are kept on file within the client’s medical chart, in their home documents, or with their physicians. The most common type of advance directive is durable power of attorney for health care directives. This document appoints a person – be it a caregiver, family member, or friend – the sole decision maker in end-of-life care for the client. The person should be one the client trusts and can rely on to carry out their last wishes, which should be discussed at length before or at the time that the advanced directive is written. This ensures that the appointed party knows exactly what the client would have them to do in any given situation. The document must be signed in order to be considered valid. However, an attorney is not required for creating one.

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