Caring at the end of life
It can be confronting to talk about death and dying, but it is important to discuss the options for where the person may die and to understand their wishes. As the carer, your wishes also need to be considered. Talking about the options early while the person is still well can help avoid rushed decision-making, distress, and regrets or feelings of guilt later.
Many people say that they would like to die at home. Carers may want to respect the person’s wishes, but may feel worried because they don’t know what to expect. Dying at home is possible with planning and support. Finding out more about the support available from the palliative care team and other services may help you feel more comfortable.
Not everyone wants to die at home, and some people change their minds as their illness progresses. Other options for end-of-life care include 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 others, 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.
When I see him struggling and he’s had a really rough time, it’s hard to just think maybe it will be easier for him to just die in his sleep. We can talk about that, and it’s reassuring for both of us to put that into words.Susan
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Dr Laura Kirsten, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, NSW; Mary Bairstow, Senior Social Worker, Cancer Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Anne Booms, Nurse Practitioner – Supportive and Palliative Care, Icon Cancer Centre Midland, WA; Dr Erica Cameron-Taylor, Staff Specialist, Department of Palliative Care, Mercy Hospice, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Louise Good, Cancer Nurse Consultant, WA; Verity Jausnik, Senior Policy Officer, Carers Australia; David Larkin, Cancer Supportive Care Manager, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital and Health Service, ACT; Kate Martin, Consumer; John McMath, Consumer; Simone Noelker, Physiotherapist and Wellness Centre Coordinator, Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, VIC; Tara Redemski, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer Care, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Dean Rowe, Consumer; Chris Sibthorpe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
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