Chapter 1: Considerations for a home death

If you change your mind

The palliative care expert says
Description to come(3:22)Video transcript

He managed to tell me it was all right, but I was so disappointed in myself. I felt guilty, but I knew I couldn’t continue on my own at home. I was about to collapse.

If you try to stay flexible in your planning, you might be able to avoid feelings of guilt or regret if things change in the future. People often hesitate to make a change in location when they feel it means breaking a promise, either to themselves or to a family member. Instead of promising a home death, you might decide to have your loved one stay at home for as long as possible.

Below is one of the main reasons families decide to have a home death, and why they sometimes change their minds. Click on the switch button to read these.

Why people decide on a home deathWhy people change their minds

Many people choose a home death because they can have family nearby while the person who is ill can stay in familiar, comfortable surroundings. With the support of local healthcare services, such as a palliative care program with home care resources, this may be a rewarding and meaningful experience for the family.

Near the end of life, families may feel overwhelmed with caregiving responsibilities and find that they are spending very little time talking, sharing, or sitting quietly with the person who is dying. If you find yourself in this situation, you may want to recreate the home environment in a healthcare setting.

What may help

Create the “spirit” of home wherever you are

Sometimes you can create surroundings that reflect the way the person has lived – even in a hospital room. Photographs, music, or other important family items can help to personalize what may otherwise be an institutional space.

For some families, removing the responsibilities for primary caregiving can free up time and mental space for family members just to be together. For them, maintaining the spirit of being “home” is more important than actually being at home. For others, a sense of purpose and accomplishment comes with caring for a family member at home.