What do you want your end-of-life experience to look like? If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. You risk not having your wishes carried out.
My nursing career regarding end of life was impacted by meeting Dr. Elizabeth Kubler Ross as a student. She was passionate about people being physically comfortable and emotionally supported during their last days. Witnessing peaceful transitions was more kind than seeing a patient connected to tubes and having someone pounding on their chest when the outcome was still death.
Hospice and palliative care are wonderful options to help those at end of life, yet the majority still think that hospice means “giving up” or is for just the last day or two of life.
For the few for whom hospice is not enough to relieve their suffering, medical aid in dying is available in 10 states and Washington D.C. for mentally capable, terminally ill adults. Currently, Illinois is not one of those states. Medical aid in dying is an elective for those who have been told by two health-care providers that they have less than 6 months to live. They can request a prescription through their provider. They must be able to self-ingest the medication to peacefully end their suffering. It is a private and personal decision made with the support of one’s health-care provider and loved ones.
Please let your representatives know that you support medical aid in dying as an option for terminal Illinoisans.
In my many years as a nurse, I have seen too many people who do not plan or don’t plan well. Please don’t be one of them. It’s a gift to your loved ones to educate yourself about end-of-life issues, decide what you want and talk to your doctors and your family so they can carry out your wishes.
Information about resources and tools for the whole spectrum of end-of-life plans can be found at www.compassionandchoices.org
Maureen A. Rafa, BS, RN, PMHBC