The end of someone’s life is no less significant than its beginning, and that’s why an entire industry – complete with guidelines – has grown up around end-of-life care. Palliative and hospice programs are supposed to help manage and ease the passing of patients in their care.
Why, then, do studies indicate that death is getting harder, not easier?
A new study indicates pain and depression are common
Despite all of the work done to make death easier, a new study in the “Annals of Internal Medicine” indicates that Americans are experiencing more pain and depression in their last year of life than ever before.
The study looked at how more than 7,204 people went through the dying process over a 10-year period. Researchers essentially discovered that physicians still under-treat pain, avoid talking about dying openly with their patients and frequently keep using procedures and drugs to prolong lives past the point where those lives feel worth living.
DNR orders, living wills and powers of attorney can help
Nobody can avoid dying, but there’s no reason that you can’t take some control over the situation in your final days.
You can make use of a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order (if that’s what you want), plus lay out your preferred treatment plans and wishes in clear terms through a living will. Appointing a trusted loved one to be your health care power of attorney to make decisions for you if you’re unable to do so on your own is also wise.
Estate planning isn’t just about deciding how your assets will be distributed after you are gone. It’s also very much geared toward making sure that you spend your final days the way you prefer.