Guide to End of Life Planning & Care
Something everyone at some point must consider but actually, once done is very much a relief.
Introduction to End of Life Planning
They say "life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans." Some may quote John Lennon on that, others, Allen Saunders. In a way end of life planning would appear to be a part of that process but why plan for death?
You won't be around to enjoy it. I can think of much better things to do than scribble down about apportioning inheritance pay outs, escaping tax thresholds and who will dig my grave. But during a period on your way to death, often that mindset changes and by then you've run out of time to do anything about it.
We of course all die alone but in the moments, months, years, weeks, days there is inevitably someone close by, most likely family. Your wife, your children whom you care about dearly and they, you. Which is why many people consider an end of life document before they either lose control of their senses or simply succumb to the journey out without any control over how that will happen or who will benefit from the assets you leave behind. That's a bit sad isn't it?
Devising an End of Life document pack is perhaps something we should all have - regardless of age, a bit like an ICE number (in case of emergency) on a mobile phone. Should we become ill at age 23, 35 or 75, one document held with a solicitor or close family member that contains all your living the life documents. From insurance, bank accounts, online logins, business details and access. All of this tends to get wrapped up into a Wills and Probate package. you can also details share holdings, pensions, offer aces to social media account so they can be closed down.
The End of your life, in some cultures would see you simply walk into the woods peacefully, alone and your body will be retrieved shortly after. In others, religions take care of most of the finality of the situation, but who will pay for the funeral? Do you wish to be scattered across the English Channel or taken to see one last football match? Your spirit, your beliefs, your money, your life can be celebrated and handed down to others. Don't forget children and your pets too and what might happen to them. The end of life plan need not just be about assets, you can ensure you are also well cared for.
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End of Life Care
From the minute we are born we are heading towards the last minute of our life. How we fill the space in between is what will mark our journey through what is known as life. As much as we need care and support growing up, we also need a similar level of care and support at the other end. Help walking, help going to the toilet, our bodies act in reverse and instead of growing stronger, grow weaker by the day.
We all know this is the way life unfolds and we all know what is at the end, yet there is still a large majority who prefer to forget any of it happens. As if ignoring the end journey allows us to live life more full, perhaps it does. Yet End of Life planning is serious business, especially when it comes to loved ones and your own financial situation. End of life care can involve remaining at home with helpers visiting or you may move to a care home in your retirement years.
While it is a quaint notion that people die of old age and that's the way you wish to go, did you know there's actually no tick box in Western society for 'died of old age?'
It's either a disease, respiratory illness, circulatory problems, or an accident due to a fall but never simply old age. At some point you may well need medical care, palliative care at home or 24/7 Doctor and Nurse medical assistant in a care home.
The NHS has an End of Life guide that you can digest to understand what options are open to you when it comes to care. There are many charities and societies that also act as independents who can aid in gaining knowledge and how best to make the right decisions, such as the Care Quality Commission's Care Quality Commission website (CQC). The latter should help relieve you of pre-conceived ideas about care home treatment and how they are viewed by current residents and fellow care professionals.
None of us like the idea of moving into a care home, never to be seen again, no one really understanding out needs. Which is why an End of Life care plan doesn't need to only focus on what others gain from you, and rather what you can gain from the rest of your life. How you fund that care and lifestyle, what level of care and activity you receive. Planning for long term care at home or moving into a care home is more than just ensuring you have money, but about the level of comfort you retain, that you still have a life to lead and that you don't just sit and await the outcome.
Despite the fact it will happen to all of us, there is one event we are rarely prepared for. Whether death is about to happen to us or someone else - in fact it is probably easier when it is ourselves facing the final conclusion. While these pages are primarily for the person who is to be cared for and their planning an End of life story, we are all too aware that carers, loved ones, family and friends are giving their input too.
Do you know how long a period of bereavement can last? It really should come with a government warning, while you may start to look better to others after a week or two, mentally and inside your head, your mindset could be very different.
Of course, everyone from your boss to your hairdresser have offered support and family and friends will offer theirs too but dealing with bereavement is an entirely personal journey that you need to share when able.
I do not wish you to leave this page and no consider getting help when you need it the most. There are a hundred and one things that can go wrong when someone you love dies. Your Mum, your Dad, grandparents, there are people that have been present all your life and then suddenly, no more. It's a shock to the system, one which can last years for you to mentally overcome. And by years, yes the loss of a parent could take ten years or forever to accept.
Finding help is easier than you may think, the actual difficulty is realising that a, you need it and b, you need to go towards it to get it. With the age of the internet help and support is only ever one web address away and a click of a mouse but if you're like me and not so used to internet conversation then face to face can be much more real than a Facetime or Skype session. There are numerous support groups for different types of bereavement local to you that you can seek out this week.
Access to counselling is recommended after any death, sudden or otherwise and you can even get support if you a long term carer, because as much as you try to put a determined healthy look on your face and show courage, deep down, everyone else knows how difficult being a carer is, they know you suffer too. How you deal with grief will be as individual as your own feelings. It occurs differently to all of us, deep within our minds, which is why any support group will not tell you how to deal with it but simply listen and encourage you to find a way to release, take your memories with you and move on.
It may be an online forum, a weekly or monthly support group with others fading in and out of the meetings as time goes on. Or it could be a website such as Support Line, a portal that helps you transcend from the worst place you've found yourself in mentally and to find a way through any depression, bad feelings and sadness and to look to a future that is brighter and that they will want you to feel better about their passing.
Each of the available support groups in your locality may be all encompassing to specific to a certain bereavement caused by a certain event. Not every condition can be best handled by a group of therapy that takes in everybody, some are more close knit and essential need to deal with topics that may well upset more people than it helps. Which is why you will find a variety of groups that support bereaved individuals and partners along the following topics; Suicide, Murder, Stillbirth, Widowed or Child bereavement. It matters not how the person you loved or cared for died, what matters is that you seek a forum to talk to try and get through how you're feeling so a normality can resume.