Caregivers and their families often face difficult medical, emotional and spiritual decisions as the person in their care approaches the end of life. In a perfect world, we’d discuss care preferences with our family members and our chronically ill loved ones well in advance of an emergency. But when the decline of a loved one is gradual, it is often easy to overlook the signs of an impending crisis. Families may find themselves needing to make a decision in the midst of confusion and grief without a true understanding of a loved one’s wishes.
The three new Fact Sheets in FCA’s new “End of Life Choices” series shed light on some of these important issues.
The progression of many neurological illnesses is such that a loved one may eventually no longer be able to eat, swallow or breathe without assistance. The Fact Sheet Feeding Tubes and Ventilators describes the types of care available in these circumstances as well as the other considerations involved.
Likewise, the Fact Sheet CPR and DNR describes the process of CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), explains the scenarios in which it may not to be beneficial to perform it, and describes the legal instrument Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders, which instruct emergency responders not to use CPR.
It is instinctive to hold on to life, but a time may come when “letting go” becomes the right thing to do. The Fact Sheet Holding on and Letting Go discusses the shifting, profound emotions and considerations involved when a loved one is dying.
Another new Fact Sheet, Holding a Family Meeting, is a practical guide to organizing and conducting a care planning meeting. It covers the challenges involved in coming to an agreement on the care of a chronically ill loved one.
All FCA Fact Sheet are available for free at www.caregiver.org/factsheet.html, or can be ordered by sending $1 each to FCA Fact Sheets, 180 Montgomery Street, Suite 1100, San Francisco, CA 94104.
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