Death is an uneasy subject no matter what age you are. The end of a loved one's life makes most of us uncomfortable, and all too often brings out the worst in our conversational and personable skills.
If you haven't had to face a similar situation yet, you undoubtedly will. What will you say, and what will you do during the end of your loved one's life?
Even the mere thought of having an end-of-life talk might make you break out in a sweat, so before you lose it be sure to look over a few tips on how to approach the matter delicately and effectively.
KevinMD.com offers up three suggestions to smooth over a typically bumpy conversation.
The first is to be sure you're asking the right questions. You need to find out what is truly important to your loved one at the end of their life.
Whether it's a home repair that needs attention or a special message delivered to someone, you can only help out your loved one if you know what's most important to them in their final days, and you can only know by asking.
As important as the right question is, it's even more crucial to listen for the answer. Your loved one needs your undivided attention and care, and the best way to show you're there is to close your mouth and listen closely.
The third and final tip for handling an end of life situation is rather simple, and it is to just be there. Be there to listen, to assist, to comfort, to act on whatever is requested of you. Your availability for your loved one's final moments will mean more to them than anything you could say.
If you're concerned about whether or not your loved one will be able to communicate with you at the end of their life, talk early about important things like life-sustaining treatment and preservation.
The state of Oregon wrote a form to help the elderly clearly outline how they want to be cared for at the end of their life. The POLST, or Physical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, is currently used by fourteen states, with twenty more considering adopting it.
While the POLST and other similar forms are important to discuss before it's too late, this too needs to be handled with sensitivity.
Christian Brugger, moral theology professor in Denver, says "I've heard often that elderly patients can feel pressured by the medical community or by their family not to be a burden. I think those kinds of pressures are very hard to calculate. And we want to be very careful that we don't put those kinds of pressures on the elderly."
To learn more about this subject contact a doctor near you.Sources
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.