The 5 Best Options for End-of-Life Care

September 20, 2021   -   , ,

One of the facts of life is that eventually, it will end. As age increases and health concerns progress, a person’s health may be affected to the point where end-of-life care becomes a reality. In this article, we’ll look at what end-of-life care is, how it works, and the various forms it takes.

What is End-of-Life Care?

End-of-life care refers to the medical care that a person receives when they are at or approaching the end of their life. It may span days, weeks, months, or even years. Typically it’s associated with a terminal illness such as cancer, heart disease, later-stage diabetes, and others. A person might receive this type of healthcare at their home, a medical facility, or another facility designed to administer some form of treatment.

There are several factors to consider when thinking about end-of-life care for yourself. While much of it pertains to the type and extent of care you wish to receive, such as, if you want to experience comfort for a condition versus participating in brand-new drug studies. It’s also important to think about where you want to spend your final days and the financial implications required to do so. 

What Are the Different Types of End-of-Life Care?

The type of end-of-life care a person may need varies depending on the needs of the patient, the goal of the treatment, the resources available, and other factors. Additionally, each end-of-life care solution has its own unique characteristics, provisions, and situations for which it’s most appropriate. The following describes the five types of end of life care.

1. Hospice

Hospice is end-of-life care that’s intended for people who have a life-threatening health condition and whose life expectancy is six months or less. The goal of hospice is not to promote recovery, but rather to manage pain and promote comfort. At this stage, it’s accepted that death is near and the focus is on preserving quality of life. Hospice can be received at home or at a hospice facility and is usually paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. Hospice care is never denied because of an inability to pay.

2. Palliative Care

Palliative care is end-of-life care for people who have a serious disease or health condition but whose life expectancies are not less than six months. In other words, they have a terminal disease that requires management, but death is not imminent. Different forms of cancer, heart failure, diabetes, and more are just a few situations where palliative care may be appropriate. Many therapies and treatments fall under the umbrella of palliative care, but the type and extent of care a person receives often depend largely on the financial resources that are available.

3. Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities are for elderly people who can and wish to maintain a level of independence with their lifestyle but require some level of routine assistance. They allow for apartment-like living while enjoying common amenities and being free of routine property maintenance. The costs for these types of facilities vary greatly depending on the community, but they can become considerably expensive, usually being paid for with personal funds.

4. Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are similar to assisted living facilities in that they are a community of people who live together, but nursing homes provide a much more intense level of care. They’re most appropriate for people who do not have the ability to live independently or care for themselves. They are less about “active living” and more about regular medical attention. They’re paid for with Medicaid, Medicare, private funds, and long-term care insurance but the ability to choose a specific nursing home can depend on the ability to pay. 

5. At-Home Care

At-home care is just that — receiving care at home from caregivers who may be family members, paid professionals, or a combination of both. The costs for at-home care can quickly get high depending on the type, frequency, and intensity of care required. Family members who become caregivers can easily feel overwhelmed. In those situations, respite care — which is short-term care provided by paid professionals — can give familial caretakers a break.

How to Choose the Best End of Life Care Option for You or Your Loved One

Choosing end-of-life care, whether for yourself or someone else can be very difficult. It nearly always coincides with health challenges, and it also represents change that may be difficult to accept on an emotional level. Whether it’s for themselves or a loved one, making sure that the best possible care is received is the top priority.

All end-of-life care has a financial aspect that weighs into planning and decisions, but at-home care deserves a special mention in that it’s the form of end-of-life care that most people will say they want, yet the one they’re most unprepared to take on. In addition to the costs of care, whether or not your home itself can handle any necessary equipment or accommodations. That’s just one item. People who want to receive end-of-life care at home should make it a focus of their estate planning.

Planning for End-of-Life Care

End-of-life care is one of the largest and busiest industries serving the elderly community, yet it’s one aspect of the future that many people are woefully unprepared for. If you have yet to think about end-of-life care for yourself, now is the time. Have a discussion with yourself and give honest and serious consideration to what you want (or don’t want) for your own end-of-life care.

Equally importantly, is making the necessary financial plans for your health care. If you want to have as much freedom as possible to decide the nature and provide of your care, it’s wise to make the preparations necessary so that your options are not limited by your financial resources. Nobody wants to think they could end up in a nursing home that doesn’t match their expectations, but it happens.

Have You Planned for End-of-Life Care?

While you’re able and of sound mind, document your wishes about your end-of-life care in your advance care document (living will). Plan for it, financially. Savings, long term care insurance, and other instruments are just a few of the tools you can use. Don’t let procrastination and denial about death keep you from making decisions or taking action. Thoughtfully planning for the final phase of life is an obligation everyone has to themselves and the people they leave behind.