Aging Well

End of Life

It’s never easy to face your own death or the death of someone you love. These guides and resources can help you navigate painful feelings, tough conversations with friends and family, and difficult end-of-life decisions.

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End of Life FAQs

What is palliative care?
Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life for people suffering from serious illnesses. This involves methods to alleviate symptoms, reduce pain, and ease emotional distress. Most people who seek out palliative care are dealing with terminal diseases, such as cancer or dementia. However, it can be helpful at any stage of an illness, even when there is still hope of a cure by other means. In some cases, palliative care is used to alleviate the side effects of treatments such as chemotherapy, which can help you tolerate more aggressive or longer-term treatment.
What’s the difference between palliative care vs hospice?
Hospice care and palliative care are similar in that both aim to reduce your physical pain and emotional suffering. However, hospice care is specifically for people who are terminally ill, typically with six months or less to live. It enables you to live your last days to the fullest, with purpose, dignity, grace, and support. People who receive palliative care may be living with a serious illness, but they’re not necessarily end-of-life patients. Palliative care refers to any care that can help alleviate symptoms, reduce pain, and ease emotional distress, which can be helpful at any stage of an illness.
What is hospice?
Hospice care provides comfort to a person who is at the end of their life, typically with a life expectancy of six months or less. It focuses on pain and symptom relief, and enabling you to live your last days with dignity and support. A hospice care team can involve a variety of staff members, including medical professionals to administer pain-relieving medications. A priest may provide spiritual counseling and a social worker may offer support and guidance to the grieving family. Hospice care can be provided in a healthcare facility or in your own home.
What are the stages of death?
The stages of death can manifest in many ways, depending on your loved one’s illness, emotional state, and other factors. Some common signs that the end of life is drawing closer include a decrease in appetite, drop in body temperature, and loss of bladder control. Your loved one may grow progressively detached from their surroundings and unresponsive to family and friends. Their heart rate will gradually slow, and their breathing can become rapid or shallow. Some people experience hallucinations and confusion in the late stages of life. Any periods of agitation or sudden pain, however, can usually be managed with medication.
Where do I find grief counseling near me?
To find local grief counseling options, start by asking friends and family members for recommendations. Local churches or senior centers may also be able to direct you to counselors in your local area. If you have health insurance, visit the insurer’s website for in-network options. Online services, such as BetterHelp and Online, can also match you to professional grief counseling services.