LIFE HAS VALUE UNTIL ITS NATURAL END
Every person, regardless of their circumstances, has worth and can make a valuable contribution to our community.
The dignity of those who are aging, disabled, or living with a chronic progressive illness is compromised if they experience pain or other symptoms that are not well-managed, lose the ability to engage in meaningful activities, experience loss of control over their lives, or perceive that they are a burden to family, friends, or caregivers. When dignity is lost, a person may feel hopeless and that they are of little value. For too many, this leads to choosing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).
Here are some things we can do to help people choose life and promote their dignity:
1. Care about people who are struggling physically, mentally, and emotionally.
People need to know that someone cares. Help to reduce feelings of being a burden by letting them know that you want to be there to support them.
2. Be genuinely interested in understanding how a person’s illness, disability, or the aging process is impacting them.
Simply be present, listen, and support their outlook. You don’t need to fix anything or try to make people feel better. All of us just want to be heard and understood.
3. Talk with people about those aspects of their life that they are most proud of.
4. Help people to engage in activities and interactions that are meaningful to them.
5. Get comfortable talking about the tough stuff, including death and dying.
Death is inevitable for all of us. Dying well is something we can plan for. But in order to do so, we need to talk about it. Engage your loved ones in conversations about their wishes and values, and what dying well means to them to help them maintain control of their lives until the natural end.
6. Advocate for Palliative and End-of-Life Care.
Less than 30% of Canadians have access to quality palliative and end-of-life care. Palliative and end-of-life care helps people who are living with a life-limiting illness or becoming frail to live well and die well. This needs to be an option for all Canadians.
Affirms life and regards dying as a normal part of life.
Addresses the needs of people (young to old) living with any type of chronic progressive illness or becoming frail to improve quality of life for them and their families.
Includes identifying, assessing, and alleviating pain and other physical, psychosocial, and spiritual issues.
Can, and should, be delivered from the time of diagnosis, throughout a person’s illness, alongside other regular treatments.
Involves goals of care discussions to allow people to maintain control over their lives and help care providers understand who the person is and what matters to them. Aligning the care plan with the person’s wishes and preferences promotes their ability to engage in meaningful activities and live as actively as possible.
Provides a support system for families throughout a person’s illness and into their own bereavement.
Helps people to live and die well.
Advance care planning is a process of reflection and communication, a time for you to reflect on your values and wishes, and to let others know what kind of health and personal care you would want in the future if you become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment or other care.