Care at the end of life
It can be confronting to talk about death and dying, but it is important to explore the options for where the person may die and to understand their wishes. Your wishes as the carer also need to be considered. Talking about the options early while the person is still well can help avoid distress and regrets or feelings of guilt later.
Many people say that they would like to die at home. Dying at home usually depends on having at least one carer available at all times. Carers may immediately feel committed to making sure this happens, or they may feel very daunted by the idea. Finding out more about the support available from the palliative care team and other services may help with your decisions and provide reassurance.
Not everyone wants to die at home, and some people change their minds as their situation changes. Depending on the circumstances, a person can be cared for at the end of life by health professionals in a hospital, a palliative care unit (hospice), or a residential aged care facility. Some carers feel guilty about handing over the everyday care to somebody else, but it can allow you to spend more time just being together. If you wish, you can assist the staff with physical duties.
For more about the options at the end of life, call Cancer Council 13 11 20, or see Facing End of Life.
Tina Chivende, Social Worker, Cancer Psychosocial Service, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, ACT; Gabrielle Asprey, Telephone Support Group Facilitator, Cancer Council NSW; Dr Ben Britton, Senior Clinical and Health Psychologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle and John Hunter Hospital, and Conjoint Lecturer, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, NSW; Valmai Goodwin, Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council QLD; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Zoe Mitchell, Senior Social Worker, Palliative Care, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Amber Rose, Consumer; Carolina Simpson, Policy and Development Officer, Carers NSW.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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