Helpful things to discuss as patients near end of life

Caring for a terminally ill patient is one of the hardest parts of being a healthcare provider.

None of the training you receive in school can prepare you for having to guide a patient through the process of dying but unfortunately, this is an unavoidable part of the medical profession for many. 

Even though discussing end-of-life care is difficult, being open and honest with your patient could help ease some of their anxieties as well as allow you to be a better advocate for your patient.

You may not be able to talk about everything with them, but here are some things you should discuss with a person under your care who’s nearing the end of their life. 

Pain management

Just because your patient is nearing the end of their life doesn’t mean that your job as their healthcare provider is over. In fact, they need you now more than ever as they try to live the rest of their days as comfortably as possible. 

You need to discuss what pain management options are available to your patient so they can help you to come up with the strategy that’s best for them. Some patients may prefer natural treatment options as opposed to strong narcotics, but you’ll never know that if you don’t discuss pain management with them. 

If you do have someone under your care who prefers not to take narcotics, then you should discuss CBD with them as an option. CBD drops have become an increasingly popular treatment option for sufferers of chronic pain who want pain relief without taking the risks that come with narcotics.

CBD comes from hemp but, unlike the THC found in marijuana, CBD doesn’t get you high. Drops aren’t the only way to take CBD. It also comes in topical creams and ingestible capsules.

Healthcare payment options

As a healthcare provider, payment options are one of the last things you want to discuss with a patient who’s nearing the end of their life, but not talking about it could be doing them a disservice.

Sometimes health insurance doesn’t cover all of the expenses that terminally ill people have to deal with and they need help to get the treatment they need.

A viatical settlement may be the ideal financial solution for a patient in end-of-life care. Viatical settlements are cash settlements, received in a lump sum, tailored especially for a terminally ill person in exchange for their life insurance policy.

The cash value of their policy depends on their life expectancy. Even though you’re not an expert on the subject of viaticals, you can point them in the direction of financial institutions who specialize in them. 

End-of-life care

One of the most important decisions a person will make towards the end of their life is where they will spend the rest of their time. As their healthcare provider, you should discuss with them whether they prefer to go into hospice care or stay at home with their family.

From experience, you know that what a patient wants isn’t always what’s best for them, but it’s your duty to listen to what they prefer and advise them on what’s best.

If your patient doesn’t have someone who can be there with them around the clock to help them with medication, treatments, and transportation to doctor’s appointments, then hospice care is the best option for them.

Let your patient know that hospice care isn’t quitting – it’s care that focuses on providing comfort rather than curing an illness. Hospice care also includes emotional support for patients and their families. 

Discussions about end-of-life preparations aren’t easy, but they’re necessary. Be sensitive, ready to listen, and understanding when you bring up the topic with your patient. Your kindness to your patient could make a difference to them for the rest of their life.