End of life

Thinking and planning ahead

Planning ahead allows you to think about how you want to be cared for in the future. On this page, we explain what you can do to prepare for end of life, and things you might want to talk to your family, carer, or health care team about.

Thinking and planning ahead is also called advance care planning. How you plan ahead will be personal to you. But there are some things you may want to consider, particularly regarding how you want to be cared for in the future.

What can I do to prepare for the end of life?

It’s important to think about, discuss, decide, and write down your decisions in advance. This is so people know your thoughts and decisions about what you do or don’t want. It might be that sometime in the future, you can’t tell them yourself.

 Talking about these things can sometimes be stressful or tiring. Don’t feel that you have to do it all at once. Advance care planning is an ongoing activity that sometimes takes time.

Talk to your family and friends, your nurse, your hospice and health care teams and a solicitor if you need to. Set aside time to have these conversations with those close to you. The things that are important to you are more likely to happen if you share your ideas and thoughts.

It can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some questions that you might want to discuss with your family, carers, and health care professionals:

  • What matters to me most now?
  • What can be done to help me if I get more out of breath?
  • Do I want to be admitted to hospital if I get really ill, even if I then die in hospital?
  • If possible, where would I wish to die? 
  • What can be done to support my family and friends?
  • Is there anything else I need to do about my will and financial affairs?
  • What can be done to reduce any suffering I might experience?
  • Are there any specific treatments I don’t want?
  • How do I feel about organ donation?

We have more guidance on talking to loved ones about death.

This week the doctor, the nurse, the oxygen supplier and my carer have all talked about the days to the end and how it will be managed. The drugs are in place and regimes agreed upon that will hold me secure through the difficult days leading to those final moments.

David was in the final stages of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)

Palliative care

Palliative care isn’t only for those who have cancer – it’s available for anyone with a life-threatening illness. Palliative care is not just for the end of life. You can receive palliative care at any stage in your illness. You can have palliative care alongside other therapies, treatments and medicines aimed at controlling your illness.

This care is designed to improve the quality of your life and the lives of those who are close to you. This includes controlling symptoms, such as fatigue, anxiety and breathlessness.

Palliative care also aims to support you and your loved ones emotionally, spiritually and practically before and after death. Talk to your doctor and nurse about local services that could help you.  

Read next: Advance care planning

Download our end of life information (PDF, 490KB)

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