End of treatment

What important things should I think about for me?

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Coming to terms with the idea of death can be overwhelming, and once the shock has started to wear off you may start to wonder what you should do to prepare.

This page provides a list of important aspects about your own physical and mental wellbeing to consider during this time.

End-of-life care and defining a living will / advance directive

End-of-life care and defining a living will / advance directive

Some people think end-of-life care is the same thing as palliative care. We’ve discussed palliative care elsewhere on Younity, but end-of-life care is different.        

End-of-life care aims to define how you want to be treated as you approach the end of your life. In contrast, palliative care supports you with living your life when you are seriously ill – whether you’re on treatment or not.

One of the best ways to define your end-of life-care is with a living will (also sometimes called an “advance directive”). This is a legally-binding document that outlines certain aspects of how you want to be treated when you may not be able to make decisions yourself (for example, if you are unconscious). It will be added to your medical notes.

Documents like this can be difficult to think about and consider, but they can also be a huge help to your family later down the line, as they prevent them having to make difficult decisions about your care.

Living wills define a number of things, but in particular:1

  • Your desire to be resuscitated or not in the event that you stop breathing, or if your heart stops
  • Your desire to accept or refuse life-sustaining treatments, such as being on a ventilator, or given antibiotics if you develop an infection
Advance statement

Advance statement    

An advance statement is different to an advance directive. These help to define the more holistic aspects of your care if you are not able to make decisions yourself.

These include aspects such as:2

  • Where you want to receive care if you become very ill (for example at home, or in a hospice)
  • If you want any religious or spiritual beliefs to be reflected in your care (for example if your faith prohibits you from receiving certain treatments, if you would like prayers or last rites at any point, or if your faith states that your funeral must take place within a certain period of time after your death)
  • How you like to do things, for example having a shower instead of a bath, sleeping with a certain number of pillows, etc
  • Any practical issues, such as who will look after your pets, children, household, etc

Unlike advance directives, advance statements are not legally-binding. So it is good to make sure that you discuss your wishes with your family, and have them written down and kept somewhere safe and easy to find.2

Funeral arrangements

Funeral arrangements

Arranging a funeral can be an emotional process, and for some people it can add an extra burden to their grieving process. As such, you might want to consider getting in touch with a funeral director, and defining how you want your funeral to take place.    

Things you may consider with a funeral director include:

  • The clothes you would like to wear during your ceremony, how you would like your hair styled, and if you wear makeup how you would like this to look
  • What type of service you would like. If you don’t follow a faith then you may prefer a humanist ceremony, or a simple memorial service, or celebration
  • Any specific readings or music you would like to have at your ceremony
  • The type of coffin you may like, and urn if you have chosen to be cremated
  • If you would prefer to be buried, cremated, or have your body handled another way
  • Where you would like to be buried, or have your ashes scattered
Last Will and Testament

Last Will and testament    

Similarly to arranging your funeral, having a Last Will & Testament in place can be a big help to loved ones after you have passed, as it helps to clearly define who you would like to receive your assets and belongings.

Some people forego making a will as they believe that their family will automatically be the recipients of the contents of the will. However modern families may have a number of relationships, or past relationships that can make dividing assets difficult, so defining this beforehand may help to alleviate some of this burden from your loved ones.

It’s also important to remember that just because you have lived with somebody for a long period of time (as a married couple or as somebody in a civil partnership), if you are not legally married or otherwise legally joined, other people may be able to contest your will after you have passed. Again, clearly defining your wishes can help to avoid this.

More information        

The information we have provided here is a start, but there are many aspects to end-of-life care and preparation that you may wish to consider. Ask your healthcare team if your hospital or treatment centre have access to anybody who can guide you in your preparations to ensure you and your family feel as supported and ready as possible for the future during this time.

  1. National Health Service (NHS). Advance directive (living will). 2017. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/end-of-life-care/advance-decision-to-refuse-treatment/#refusing-cpr-in-advance. Last accessed August 2019.
  2. National Health Service (NHS). Advance statement about your wishes. 2017. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/end-of-life-care/advance-statement/. Last accessed August 2019.