It’s appropriate this blog post is appearing on April 16, National Healthcare Decisions Day. The initiative is designed to encourage individuals to prepare and discuss their advance medical directives. Advance directives enable families to know what kind of care is desired, should a loved one become ill and not be able to communicate.
Studies indicate 73% of Americans would prefer to die at home, but up to 50% die in hospital settings. It takes courage and determination to carry out a loved one’s wishes for end-of-life care. Knowing what those wishes are and discussing them is the first step.
If a family member says he or she wants to die at home, I recommend the following books for those caring for a dying loved one. The links in the titles (in color) take you directly to the corresponding Amazon.com page.
Coming Home provides end-of-life care guidance that helps the reader acknowledge feelings of fear and guilt, and transform them with love. It provides helpful resources and practical information on preparing the home, talking openly about dying, legal and medical considerations, and how to be with someone in their final days. The book was first published in 1981 and the fourth edition came out in 2010.
The Last Gifts: Creative Ways to Be with the Dying by Jillian Brasch, OTR
The Last Gifts shares 17 first-hand accounts by an occupational therapist in a hospice program and her work with dying patients. Jillian Brasch details ways to help family be present and comfortable and help the dying patient to meet their final goals. Written for anyone in the vicinity of a dying person, this award-winning book is practical and insightful, with a direct simplicity that makes it entertaining and easy to read.
Dying the RIGHT Way: A System of Caregiving & Planning for Families by Janice Louise Long
While the title lacks appeal, Dying the RIGHT Way provides a lot of good information. The book draws upon the author’s experiences caring for her parents during their final four years. It is a guide for keeping elders or others requiring long-term care healthy as long as possible. The caregiving information includes tips, forms, checklists, and questions to ask. It also provides guidance for funeral planning and steps toward settling an estate.
The Needs of the Dying uses comforting and touching stories to provide information that helps meet the needs of families and a dying loved one. David Kessler, a student and coauthor with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, identifies key areas of concern for the dying: the need to be treated as a living human being, the need for hope, expressing emotions, participating in care, the need for honesty, spirituality and to be free of physical pain.
Any of these books can foster the conversations we need to have with our families on National Healthcare Decisions Day – or any other day, for that matter.
Gail Rubin is a Certified Celebrant who brings light to a dark subject and helps get funeral planning conversations started. Her book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, has won multiple awards. Learn more at www.AGoodGoodbye.com. Gail is an ongoing contributor to the Academy blog. Contact: 505-265-7215 or email Gail@AGoodGoodbye.com.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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