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End of life care

The latest research shows that healthcare providers and their elderly patients find it difficult to talk about how much time someone has left and how they’d like to be cared for as they near the end of life. With an aging population and an increase in treatment options to keep us living longer (if not always better) than ever before, it’s more important than ever to plan for the medical treatment or palliative care you would like to receive.

Home palliative care a key to respecting end of life wishes
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Advance care planning and intensive care: Planning ahead for your end of life wishes
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Transitioning to end of life care: Communication is key
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  • Evidence Summary

    End-of-life care pathways for improving outcomes in caring for the dying

    Cochrane database of systematic reviews (2010)
  • Evidence Summary

    Key service features identified to optimize bereavement support

    Palliative Medicine (2020)
  • Evidence Summary

    Case management programs may have benefits for informal caregivers  

    International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry (2017)
  • Web Resource Rating

    Treating pressure ulcers: New evidence, continued uncertainty

    Evidently Cochrane
    Gauze dressings should not be used to treat pressure ulcers (bed sores). Other options include alginate dressings, hydrogel dressings, and negative pressure wound therapy. More evidence is needed about which options are best to improve pain and reduce complications. Research should measure outcomes that matter to patients and carers as well as health professionals.
  • Evidence Summary

    Hospital at home: Home-based end of life care

    Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2011)
  • Evidence Summary

    Hospital at home: home-based end-of-life care.

    Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2016)
  • Web Resource Rating

    Reminiscence Therapy and Activities for Seniors

    A Place For Mom
    Reminiscence therapy helps older adults recall specific positive memories using their 5 senses. It can be useful for older adults with dementia and Alzheimer's. It has been found to improve overall quality of life and could be a form of therapy to look into for yourself or your loved one. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Evidence Summary

    Early palliative care for adults with advanced cancer.

    Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2017)
  • Patient Decision Aid

    Advance Care Planning: Should I stop kidney dialysis?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps people with kidney failure currently undergoing dialysis, and for whom kidney transplantation is not possible, decide on whether or not to stop the treatment. It facilitates the process by comparing the benefits, risks and side effects of both options.
  • Patient Decision Aid

    A Decision Aid to Prepare Patients And Their Families For Shared Decision-Making About Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps seriously ill patients who are older and/or have advanced medical illness and a high near-term risk of death and their families decide whether or not to have cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) treatment.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Palliative care: Who is it for?

    Mayo Clinic
    Palliative care focuses on providing relief from symptoms and stress you may experience during treatment for a serious illness. Read more to learn about whether or not palliative care may be right for you.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Top ten things to know: Decision making in advanced heart failure

    American Heart Association
    It is important that doctors and patients work together to make decisions about advanced heart failure. Developing an end-of-life care plan that meets your values, goals and preferences will help to simplify decisions later on.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Hospice care: Comforting the terminally ill

    Mayo Clinic
    Consider hospice care for those who are terminally ill. Hospice care focuses on maintaining a high quality of life during the final months and days of life. This resource includes tips to help you select a hospice program.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Terminal illness: Supporting a terminally ill loved one

    Mayo Clinic
    Knowing how to offer comfort to a loved one with a terminal illness can be hard. Speak with them about the life they have lived and provide emotional support. Hospice and palliative care experts are a great resource for people with terminal illness and their caregivers.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Anxiety

    Canadian Virtual Hospice
    Symptoms of anxiety include: racing thoughts, fast heart rate, shortness of breath, nausea and trouble sleeping. Some people may have panic attacks. This resource includes tips to help you recognize and cope with anxiety.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Is supporting caregivers of the terminally ill effective?

    Evidently Cochrane
    Supporting caregivers whose relatives are dying can lower their distress and may improve their quality of life and ability to cope. However, among some caregivers, support increased family conflict and did not help improve their sleep.
  • Evidence Summary

    Pandemics like COVID-19 can negatively impact grief and bereavement

    Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (2020)
  • Web Resource Rating

    Comparing End-of-Life Care Options

    Aging Care
    Choosing an end of life care option is a decision that depends on your personal needs and financial limits. There are also different places you can access end of life care such as the hospital or at home. Read this resource to learn more about these different options and the financial supports available to you in the United States.
  • Patient Decision Aid

    Understanding the Options: Planning care for critically ill patients in the Intensive Care Unit.

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps family members (including surrogate decision maker) of a patient admitted to the intensive care unit decide between life support and comfort care by comparing the benefits, risks, and side effects of both options.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Advance Directives

    Health In Aging
    Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to make healthcare decisions ahead of time, so you continue to get the care you want and avoid treatments you do not want. Advance directives only go into effect when you lose the ability to make decisions. Read this resource to learn more about the types of advance directives.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Guardianship

    Health In Aging
    A guardian is someone who helps older adutlts with cognitive impairments to make decisions. Limited guardianship gives the guardian the power to make decisions in a specific area such as finances or medical care. Unlimited guardianship gives the guardian the power to make all the decisions for the older adult. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Choosing a Substitute Decision-Maker (SDM)

    Health Link B.C.
    A substitute decision maker is someone you choose in advance to make health care decisions for you in case you can't make them for yourself. Choosing a substitue decision maker is a legal process. Once you select a substitute decision maker, it is important to discuss your health care preferences with them and document these preferences.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Pancreatic Cancer and Palliative Care

    Get Palliative Care
    When you have pancreatic cancer, you often experience intense pain. Palliative care can help you treat pain and adjust you medicines in order to have the fewest side effects. Palliative care can also help you deal with the stress and emotions related to this disease. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Dementia and Palliative Care

    Get Palliative Care
    Dementia is a deterioration of the brain. As the condition progresses, patients will have additional care needs. Palliative care helps patients get the care they need and helps families cope with having loved ones with dementia. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    What is sudden death?

    Sudden
    Sudden death is any unexpected death and includes death due to COVID-19. Loved ones and carers have no time to prepare or say goodbye. Their lives are significantly and sometimes traumatically altered. With the right support, it is possible to successfully cope after sudden death. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Coping with sudden death: At the beginning

    Sudden
    When you first find out about the death of a loved one, you may experience several strong emotions. You may later feel exhausted or helpless. You are not alone. Read this resource to learn about some strategies to help you in the early days after a loss.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Coping with sudden death: thoughts and reactions in the early weeks

    Sudden
    The early weeks after the sudden death of a loved one can be tough. You may experience persistent negative emotions or physical symptoms. You may lose sleep, feel angry or feel afraid. These emotions and feelings are normal. Learn about these thoughts and why you may be experiencing them in this resource.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Coping with sudden death: Advice on coping during the first weeks

    Sudden
    It is normal to feel many different emotions during the first few weeks of bereavement. Strong feelings put stress on your body so it is normal to also feel physical symptoms such as nightmares and fatigue. You should learn about what people commonly experience in grief. You should also learn about some helpful ways to cope. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Coping with sudden death: ongoing thoughts and reactions

    Sudden
    Sudden death is unexpected so it makes sense if your sadness takes longer to subside. After a while, daily living should become easier even if you feel sad at times. If you have been struggling for more than 2 months with strong feelings, it is a good idea to look into some supports available to help you cope. Your grief may lead to long term mental health challenges so it is important to get the proper help. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Coping with sudden death: procedures and paperwork

    Sudden
    After a sudden death, you should slowly look into the procedures and paperwork you will need to follow based on where you live. If the death was caused by another person, you may have to participate in an inquest or criminal investigation. You may also choose to talk about your loved one to the media. This resource introduces some of the common procedures and paperworks to look into after a sudden death. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Viewing the body

    Sudden
    Seeing the body of a deceased loved one can be a difficult experience. Some people may not have a choice as they are present at the time of the death. Others may have a choice and may choose not to view the body. It is important to allow the bereaved the right to make this decision themselves. For some people, viewing the body gives them closure while others may feel more distressed. Read this resource to learn about some of the common reactions and how to communicate about viewing the body of a deceased loved one.
  • Web Resource Rating

    COVID-19 bereavement: advice for you

    Sudden
    Bereavement due to COVID-19 can be especially difficult because of the inability to be with your loved one as they die. It is normal to feel intense emotions and sadness. It is important to get help if you find it hard to take care of your needs alone. You should also learn about some of the common reactions to the death of a loved one due to COVID-19. Read this resource for common reactions and tips for how you can cope.
  • Web Resource Rating

    What Is Palliative Care?

    Get Palliative Care
    Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for the patient by reducing their symptoms. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Disease Types and Palliative Care

    Get Palliative Care
    This resource contains information about how palliative care looks like for many diseases. Palliative care improves your quality of life by helping you tolerate medical treatments, helping you find the right treatment choice, and supporting your family and caregivers. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    ALS and Palliative Care

    Get Palliative Care
    ALS is a disease that causes nerve cells to die. This causes a loss of voluntary muscle control, and eventually leads to paralysis. Palliative care for those with ALS helps patients deal with symptoms, communicates treatment options, and helps with daily living tasks. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    COVID-19 Tips and Tools

    Get Palliative Care
    As a caregiver, there are many steps you can take to ensure your loved ones are safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other than supporting them socially, you can talk to them about their preferences for end of life care and come up with a plan together in case of emergencies. Find more useful tips in this resource.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Linking the Past to the Present - The Benefits of Reminiscing

    Today's Caregiver
    Remembering the past can help older adults with memory loss regain their sense of identity. Reminiscence can also help caregivers connect with their loved ones in a meaningful way. There are many other benefits to reminiscence. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Advance Care Planning Information: COVID-19

    Honoring Choices: Minnesota
    With the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be time to start planning for your healthcare needs and wishes for the future. Use this resource as a guide for planning for your care options to ensure that your loved ones are aware of your wishes.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Advance Care Plan Considerations

    LongTermCare.gov
    Advance care planning is about thinking about what is important to you as you approach the end of life. Some of the conversations you will have may feel difficult and there are resources that can help. You should also start looking at the people and experts around you who can help. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Seniors' Guide 2015/2016

    Government of Manitoba - Health, Seniors and Active Living
    Use this resource to find many healthy aging resources in Manitoba. You can learn about the many health, recreational, and financial supports in your community. Read this guide to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Palliative Care

    Government of Manitoba - Health, Seniors and Active Living
    Palliative care supports people with serious illnesses and their families at the end of their lives. Read this resource to learn how to access palliative care in Manitoba as well as some financial supports.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Continuing Care

    Alberta Health Services
    Alberta Health Services can help you access continuing care. This type of care includes home care, long-term care, and end-of-life care. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Continuing Care in Indigenous Communities: Guidebook

    Alberta Health Services
    There are several living, health, and financial continuing care supports available for you in Indigenous communities in Alberta. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Continuing Care

    Alberta Health Services
    There are three levels of continuing care: home care, supportive living, and long term care. Learn which level is right for you by watching this video.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Medical Assistance in Dying

    Government of Manitoba - Health, Seniors and Active Living
    Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) is when, with the consent of the patient, an authorized health care provider gives medication that intentionally bring about a patient's death. Read this resource to learn more about who qualifies for MAID and how to access this service in Manitoba.
  • Web Resource Rating

    When a Loved One is Terminally Ill

    Help Guide
    Making end of life decisions and talking about death with a loved one can be difficult. Some of the support needed may be emotional. Other needs may include making arrangements for end of life. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Late Stage and End-of-Life Care

    Help Guide
    End of life and late stage care can be a difficult time for caregivers. There can be many strong emotions such as grief, sadness and fear. Read this resource to learn how to cope and make final decisions.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Pre-plan and pre-pay final arrangements

    Government of Ontario
    Preplanning your final arrangements can save your family and loved ones from difficult decisions. Your wishes can also be properly executed. Use this resource to learn more about pre-planning your final arrangements.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Funeral, burial, cremation or scattering: your rights

    Government of Ontario
    You have several rights when planning a funeral, burial, cremation, or scattering. It is important to know your rights before you start planning. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Long Term Care

    Comfort Life
    Long term care homes provide constant nursing care to older adults who need an increased level of medical attention. These care home exist all over Canada but many have waiting lists. Read this resource to learn more.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Alzheimer's Care

    Comfort Life
    Alzheimer's care homes are equipped with resources to help older adults through Alzheimer's and dementia. These homes can also emotionally support caregivers. Read this resource to learn about Alzheimer's care homes across Canada.
  • Web Resource Rating

    End of Life Care Issues and Challenges for Caregivers: Support Aging Loved Ones in Life and Death

    Institute on Aging
    It can be difficult to care for your loved one when they are at the end of their life. It can be an emotional time for caregivers. Read this resource to learn how to support your loved one and yourself during this difficult time.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Ensure Your Wishes Are Followed

    Dying with Dignity Canada
    End of Life Planning Canada's Advance Care Planning Kits is a tool that can help communicate your end of life wishes when you are no longer able to yourself. This resource includes some of these points of consideration.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Download An Advance Care Planning Kit

    Dying with Dignity Canada
    An Advance Care Planning Kit will help you discuss your wishes for your end of life. Some requirements differ per province. Access this resource to get an Advance Care Planning Kit tailored to your province.
  • Web Resource Rating

    End-of-Life Care

    British Columbia Family & Social Supports
    The end of life is a very sensitive time for everyone involved. End of life care or palliative care is provided by the Ministry of Health in British Columbia. Read this resource to learn about options for care and government benefit programs.
  • Web Resource Rating

    How Palliative Care Helps Achieve Quality of Life

    Aging Care
    Palliative care supports people with serious illness, whether it is curable, chronic, or life-threatening. It helps people relieve symptoms, access emotional and spiritual support, and navigate the healthcare system. Learn more about palliative care and how it works by reading this resource.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Answers to Common Questions About End-of-Life Care

    Aging Care
    End of life can be a difficult time for people caring for their loved ones. Knowing the answers to some common questions can help you prepare. Read this resource to learn more about how to support your loved one during their end of life.
  • Web Resource Rating

    End of life issues

    Age UK
    The end of life is a time to make important decisions about your care, your legacy and your loved ones. Read this resource to learn more about how you can approach end of life in a way that feels right to you.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Do you have a Will?

    Retire Happy
    Only half of Canadians have a will. This leaves loved ones unsure of how to proceed with estates and other assets. Use this resource to learn how about the downfalls of not having a will and how you can get started the process started to plan for the future.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Understanding and responding to elder abuse

    Government of BC
    If you suspect any type of elder abuse, use this governmental resource as a complete guide to understanding different types of abuse, how to respond, available government resources and ways to ensure a safe environment for both yourself and the victim.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Guardianship

    Seniors First BC
    When someone is unable to make decisions due to incapacity or disability, a legal guardian is appointed. Use this resource to learn the difference between a guardian of the person and a guardian of the estate and the responsibilities of each role.
  • Web Resource Rating

    It's your choice: Personal Planning Tools

    Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia
    If you are incapable of making your own decisions in the future due to unforeseen circumstances, you can prepare in advance to make sure your wishes are carried out. In order to start planning your personal affairs, consider using this resource to learn more about powers of attorney, adult legal guardianships and advance directives.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Information for Temporary Substitute Decision Makers Authorized by the Public Guardian and Trustee

    Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia
    Consider starting to plan in case you are unable to make your own decisions in the future. Learn how a temporary substitute decision maker appointed by a health care provider or a public guardian and trustee can make decisions on your behalf and what restrictions they have when making decisions.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Consent to health care and the role of the public guardian and trustee

    Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia
    When an adult is unable to make independent decisions, a substitute decision maker must be appointed. Understand the role of the public guardian and trustee by reading this factsheet.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Duties and Powers of a guardian of property

    Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
    If you have been appointed as a guardian of property, use this resource to learn about your legal responsibilities and authority. In this role, you are allowed to make decisions on behalf of the incapable person’s property but you cannot make a will.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Becoming a guardian of property

    Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
    This resource answers all your questions on becoming a guardian of property and outlines the process of being appointed as well as responsibilities and limitations to authority.
  • Web Resource Rating

    A Guide for the Caregiver

    Government of Manitoba - Health, Seniors and Active Living
    Taking on the role of caregiver for a senior can be a mentally and physically draining task. Use this resource as a guide to help you navigate your new role. Topics covered include counselling services, housing, hospitalization, end of life care, legal matters and other support services.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Where Can I Get End-of-Life Care?

    National Institute on Aging
    If you are looking for more information on end of life care, use this resource to learn about the differences between hospital care, nursing homes or comfort care in your own home.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Understanding Healthcare Decisions at the End of Life

    National Institute on Aging
    If you are being asked to make healthcare decisions for someone who has a terminal illness, it can be overwhelming to make these decisions alone. Consider using this resource to learn about two methods you can use to make the process a little easier; substituted judgement and best interests.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Advance care planning

    National Institute on Aging
    Advance care planning is an important part of decision making near the end of life. Use this resource to guide you through this process and ensure that you are fully informed about your options in regard to powers of attorney and wills.
  • Web Resource Rating

    End of life: Helping with comfort and care

    National Institute on Aging
    If you are a caregiver for a senior who is nearing the end of their life, consider using this resource to be a better caregiver for them and to learn about ways to cope with your grief after their death.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Providing Comfort at the End of Life

    National Institute on Aging
    If someone you love is dying or has a terminal illness, use this resource to learn how you can best support them through this difficult time. Read about the four areas that should be addressed before death which include physical comfort, mental and emotional needs, spiritual issues and practical tasks.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Information for seniors about benefits, services, and planning for the future

    ClickLaw
    This resource is for people aged 60 or older and describes benefits, services and other programs they are eligible to receive in British Columbia.
  • Web Resource Rating

    Dying Without a Will

    ClickLaw
    Use this resource to learn about the importance of writing a will and follow the steps outlined to help you with the process.
  • Patient Decision Aid

    Advance Care Planning: Should I receive CPR and life support?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps individuals with a very serious illness decide on whether or not to receive CPR and life support by comparing the benefits, risks and side effects of both options.
  • Patient Decision Aid

    Advance Care Planning: Should I have artificial hydration and nutrition?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps people decide on whether or not to have artificial hydration and nutrition if or when they are no longer able to take food or fluids by mouth by comparing the benefits, risks, and side effects of both options.
  • Patient Decision Aid

    Advance Care Planning: Should I stop treatment that prolongs my life?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps people with a life-limiting illness or disease decide on whether or not to stop life prolonging treatment by comparing the benefits, risks, and side effects of both options.
  • Patient Decision Aid

    Autopsy: Should I have an autopsy done on my loved one?

    OHRI
    This patient decision aid helps people decide on whether or not to have an autopsy done after the death of a loved one by comparing the benefits, risks, and side effects of both options.
  • Blog Post

    End-of-life doulas: Providing care and comfort to the dying and their loved ones

    We have been witnessing the emergence of a new profession related to end-of-life care: the end-of-life doulas (sometimes referred as "death doulas"). End-of-life doulas offer continuous support and comfort to people at the end of life and their families.
  • Blog Post

    3 research-based benefits to being involved in conversations about your health

    Why is being involved in discussions and decision-making about your own health important? Research highlights three benefits for individuals and their caregivers.
  • Blog Post

    Having ‘the talk’: The benefits of making your wishes known about end-of-life care

    Advance care planning and having discussions about end-of-life care with family members and healthcare providers can have positive impacts for everyone involved.
  • Blog Post

    Does caregiver stress affect the move to long term care?

    Providing care for family members with challenging chronic diseases like dementia can be highly stressful and take a toll on caregivers’ physical and psychological health. When caregivers become “burnt out” are their loved ones more likely to be placed in long term care facilities?
  • Blog Post

    Transitioning to end of life care: Communication is key

    The latest research shows healthcare providers and their elderly patients find it difficult to talk about end-of-life prognosis and preferences for care. Dr. John You – a doctor and expert in end-of-life communication – shares his perspective.
  • Blog Post

    Advance care planning and intensive care: Planning ahead for your end of life wishes

    Patients who have an advance care plan are less likely to receive unwanted intensive care in hospital. Dr. Michelle Howard – an expert in end-of-life communication – provides a professional view on the topic and citizen contributor Diane shares her personal experience.
  • Blog Post

    Home palliative care a key to respecting end of life wishes

    Home palliative care – provided by specially trained health professionals – increases the likelihood of a patient dying at home and may even help to ease symptoms.
  • Blog Post

    Caring for the caregivers: Who is meeting the care needs of older adults?

    Families of older adults continue to provide the vast majority of care for their members when necessary. Changes in modern society necessitate support for them from the formal healthcare system.
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