End of Life

Issues to Consider

Honoring last wishes.

Whatever your family member’s views are about end of life options, you need to have a plan. It may not work out exactly the way they or you want, but at least you know how they would like to handle their last days—and then you can come as close to honoring that as possible.

There is going to be great emotional stress regardless, but having a clear direction and knowing what matters to your mother, father or spouse can help reduce family strife and even grief.

If you can, have an end-of-life conversation about your parents’ wishes while they’re still able. There are many good resources, including The Conversation Project, which offer concrete ways to start that difficult conversation.

Hospice and palliative care.

Palliative care, available at hospitals and medical practices, can ease pain and symptoms through medication and treatments. Hospice during the final days or weeks (usually no longer than six months) is either at home–where a caregiver may be supervised by the family member’s doctor or a hospice team—or at a hospital, health care facility or other place.

The hospice team offers 24/7 support and guidance to not just the patient, but also the family. Sometimes a hospital or physician will suggest that you do the end-of-life caring at home, or it is your family member’s choice. Before you, or a sibling, take on that responsibility, make sure you can handle the physical, time and emotional demands.

Tapping into your support system.

Now is not the time to play martyr or do it alone. You need support, whether it’s a combination of family and/or paid help, or friends who will lend an ear or lighten your load (provide meals, rides, take the dog to their house, or whatever you or your own family needs) so you can focus on Mom.