End of life

Thinking and planning ahead

Thinking and planning ahead is also called advance care planning. How you plan ahead for death 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 favourite nurse, a doctor, or your hospice, and health care teams. Give yourself 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, so we have given you some ideas.

Questions that you might want to discuss with your family, carers and health care professionals could include:

  • 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?
  • Would I agree to resuscitation if my heart or lungs stopped working?
  • Where would I like to be cared for towards the end of my life?
  • 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?

You can record your choices in your advance care plan.

Palliative and hospice care

Palliative and hospice care are not only for those who have cancer – they’re available for anyone with a life-shortening 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 your local services that could help you.  


Next: Making an advance care plan >

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Download our end of life PDF (313KB)

Last medically reviewed: March 2018. Due for review: March 2021

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.