What Makes the End-of-Life Experience Peaceful?

Prayer, meditation and a caring doctor, not hospitals and treatments, survey of dying patients finds

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To make sure those end-of-life needs are met, experts say cancer patients should have documents such as advance directives, living wills and durable power of attorney for health care, which appoints someone to make health care decisions should you no longer be able to.

But equally as important, Evans said, is for cancer patients to make sure they discuss their wishes with their family and their physicians.

"It first has to start with a conversation with your immediate family, and you have to understand the dynamics of your family, so that when you may be too ill to make decisions, that they understand how you would like things to be done," Evans said.

"So many times, we never had that conversation. Families will say, 'We don't know what to do, just treat him. He's a fighter.' This person in life may be a fighter. But what happens if we are going to lose the fight? Do you want to go down fighting, or do you want to have time to feel not so bad and to have us focus on the quality of your life?" Evans continued. "We as Americans, we don't have that conversation frequently enough, and we don't have it with our physicians."

More information

The Hospice Foundation of America has more on dying and quality of life at the end.

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