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Updated 28 June 2013

Preparing for a dignified death

There comes a time when both the patient and the caregivers and family know that death is inevitable. Here's how to prepare for a dignified death.

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There comes a time when both the patient and the caregivers and family know that death is inevitable. Here's how to prepare for a dignified death.

  • Let the patient decide whether they prefer to be at home or in another environment such as hospice, nursing home, or hospital.
  • Ensure that the patient is kept clean, comfortable and free of pain.
  • Offer small meals, since the patients appetite is waning.
  • Ensure the patient takes in adequate fluids by giving regular sips of water or drink.
  • Check that the patient has not become incontinent.
  • Ensure that the patient’s pain is being effectively controlled.
  • Allow the patient the opportunity to make peace with family, friends and loved ones.
  • Let the patient talk, if he/she wants to.
  • Understand that not only do those around the patient pass through the stages of grief, so too does the patient. This may include feelings of shock and disbelief, anxiety, anger, fears about death as well as physical symptoms such as restlessness, confusion and nausea.
  • Let the patient come to terms with his/her spiritual needs by providing access to a spiritual advisor, if so requested.
  • The patient may not want to be alone since most dying patients fear the moment of death.
  • Allow loved ones to sit close to be present at the patient's bedside and encourage them to hold the patient's hand and talk quietly to him/her, whether he/she is responding or not.

Source: Caring for the sick, Nursing the ill, the disabled, children and the elderly, The Authorised Manual of St. John Ambulance, St. Andrew’s Ambulance Association, The British Red Cross Society, 2nd ed. (1988) Dorling Kindersley Ltd.


 
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