old man holding a cane with his daughters hand on his

Helping a Loved One With End-of-Life Choices


Being faced with end-of-life decisions in the midst of an unexpected health crisis is overwhelming, to say the least. Sometimes, even if we have had conversations with a loved one regarding what their wishes are in such situations, the details can escape us when emotions are running high. Here are three things to consider when helping a loved one with end-of-life choices to make this time less stressful.

Plan ahead by creating advanced directives.

Your primary provider will likely ask you if you have advanced directives or a living will in place. He or she can help guide you through this process or you can hire an attorney if you feel there are complex details to be addressed. You can create your own advanced directives here.

The alska connected caregiving solution provides secure storage and sharing of important medical, legal and financial documents so advanced directives are accessible during a crisis.


If you are helping a loved one with end-of-life choices while battling a terminal illness, let them take the lead in sharing their thoughts when they are ready.

This can be an especially difficult time and their wishes may even be in opposition to how you would like things to be carried out but patience and respect are essential. Things to be considered in addition to standard advanced directives are things such as how hospice care will be handled if needed. Hospice can be provided in the hospital, in an independent hospice center or at home. Providing hospice care at home sometimes isn’t considered because there are details to be attended to such as choosing a home health company to provide nursing services, obtaining the necessary medical equipment and coordinating family support. Home hospice is certainly a reasonable option and can be done with some pre-planning and research. There are helpful resources for caregivers at hospicenet. 


If you feel it is necessary, choose a health advocate or proxy who won’t be influenced by emotion when difficult decisions need to be carried out.

It is not uncommon for emotional family members to implement changes to their loved ones end of life plan simply because they aren’t ready to let go when the time truly comes. It can even ease the stress on a loved one and give them time to say good bye and process their emotions if they aren’t also in the roll of making decisions with healthcare teams. A trusted friend or health professional may be willing to take on the responsibility of supporting your well thought out wishes at this difficult time. Have these important conversations well before the need arises.  If you don’t have a professional advocate there are services that provide virtual advocacy to offer guidance and resources during difficult times.

Books that can help guide you through helping a loved one with end-of-life choices: