8 Phrases You Should Know to Get the End-of-Life Care you Want

National Advance Care Planning Day (April 16, 2013) is fast approaching again – and again we’ll hear many voices urging us to write our Advance Care Plan (ACP).

Are you one of the 70 percent of adult Canadians who don’t yet have a plan? Perhaps you know what you want, but aren’t quite sure how to say it. And you want to get it right.

Don’t let lack of medical vocabulary stop you. Want to say “I don’t want to be kept alive as a vegetable”? Or “I sure want them to pull out all the stops to keep the ol’ ticker going “? Here’s how:

Below are explanations of eight common medical terms. Four describe conditions under which you have the right to accept or refuse treatment. The next four describe types of treatment you may be offered.

Possible conditions to consider:

  • Chronic debilitating suffering of a permanent nature: a medical condition with no cure. Examples would be Parkinson’s disease or terminal cancer.
  • Heart Failure: the heart is damaged and fails to pump enough blood to critical organs.
  • Stroke: damage to the brain caused by a blockage of blood flow, or bleeding. The degree of disability depends on the location and severity of the cause.
  • Terminal illness: a condition that has progressed to the point where death may be expected in weeks or months.

Possible treatment options

  • Artificial Nutrition: being fed by a method other than by mouth. This would apply if you were in a coma or otherwise unable to swallow.  Nutrition may be provided by inserting a tube through the nose and into the stomach. For long-term administration of food, fluids and medications, a tube is placed directly into the stomach.
  • Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): applying pressure to the chest, or an electric charge to re-start the heart, and sending air directly into the lungs to assist in breathing. CPR can save lives, but the success rate for critically ill patients is extremely low.
  • Hospice Care: for terminal patients, may be given at home or in a hospital or care facility. The emphasis is on pain and symptom control, normally with no aggressive medical treatment.
  • Life-sustaining treatment: replaces or supports defective bodily functions. It may be used temporarily until the patient is stabilized. If there is no hope of the body regaining the ability to function normally, life support may simply prolong the dying process.

Want more help?  The above definitions come from our provincial Advance Care Planning Resource Kits.  Our highly-rated Kits are easy to use and have helped thousands ensure their wishes for healthcare are respected.  Send for yours today.

Wanda Morris,
Executive Director  |  Dying With Dignity Canada

You can visit the Dying with Dignity website for more information or call Dying With Dignity at 1-800-495-6156 citing code CARP – ACP 5102013 for a special membership offer they are offering CARP members.  The special offer includes their Advanced Planning Kit.

Dying with Dignity is a Canadian charity dedicated to improving quality of dying and expanding end of life choices. We educate about advance care planning and patient rights, we support individuals who are at end of life and we work to legalize physician-assisted dying as an option for the grievously ill at end of life.