Chapter 2: Preparing for death
Prepare important documents
We also talked about her will, the changes she wanted to make.
As an illness progresses and the person you are caring for approaches death, families often become more distressed by the changes in the person who is ill, and by the shifts that occur in care. Being prepared and knowing the person’s wishes in advance can help alleviate some of the strain with regards to decision-making and can help provide some direction for the coming days and weeks.
The following documents will help with this process. Click on each phrase to read more.
These are documents provide specific direction to healthcare providers if a person is not able to communicate their wishes themselves.
The person can also name someone to relay their wishes for medical care. Ideally, this proxy will have an excellent understanding of the person's values and wishes. The proxy will need to feel comfortable making healthcare decisions on the person’s behalf when the person is unable to do so. Preparation of a healthcare directive also gives families an opportunity to discuss the values and wishes of the person who is ill so that they can offer guidance when difficult decisions need to be made.
In Canada, certain deaths are classified as reportable – meaning the death must be reported to the provincial or territorial medical examiner's office. The circumstances surrounding these reportable deaths are then investigated by the police or coroner’s office. Depending on which province or territory you live in, a death at home may be classified as reportable. However, it is possible in many areas to notify the medical examiner’s office of an anticipated home death due to a terminal illness before the death occurs. Check with your healthcare team to find out what steps need to be taken in your community. Generally, your doctor needs to write a letter of anticipated death and give copies to the medical examiner’s office and funeral home. Then, when the death occurs, no investigation is required.