It's natural to find it difficult and upsetting to think about the future. But you might find that making plans helps you feel more prepared, and reassured about the future for your family. Although it might be very hard, it is a good idea to talk to those close to you about your wishes so that they can help make sure they are carried out.
You can find out more from Dying Matters. Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie Cancer Care also provide information about what will happen in the last few weeks and days of life.
Thinking about your future care
Think about what care you would like to receive in the future. This is called advance care planning. It can include some of the following:
- your wishes and preferences about the type of care you want
- whether you would refuse treatment in specific circumstances
- who you would like to be asked for a decision about your care, if you are unable to make it yourself
- where you would like to be cared for - for example, at home, in a hospice or hospital
- where you would like to die.
You don't have to make any decisions if you don't want to. But it can help to think about these things early on as it helps your doctor or nurse plan your care according to your wishes. You can also talk to your family about what you want. If you change your mind at any time then you can change your plans or cancel them.
It might not always be possible for doctors to follow your wishes, but they should always take them into consideration.
Age UK, Marie Curie Cancer Care and NHS Choices have more detailed information about making decisions about your future care.
Making a power of attorney
A lasting power of attorney is a legal document. It lets you appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to - for example, if you are unconscious. You can appoint one or more people to make decisions about your care and welfare, and/or your finances and property. In the legal paperwork, they are called an attorney. They should be someone you trust, like a family member or friend.
Age UK provide advice and information on making a lasting power of attorney. You can find more information and the forms you need to fill in from the GOV.UK website.
Making a will
By making a will you can make sure that your property and possessions are passed on according to your wishes. If you die without making a will, the state decides who inherits your property. You don't need a solicitor to make a will, but using one will make sure that the correct legal processes are followed and your will is valid.
Age UK and Macmillan Cancer Support have more information about making a will.
Making a funeral plan
Some people want to be involved in decisions about their own funeral, such as whether they will be buried or cremated, or what music and readings to have. Some people take comfort in making these plans. But others prefer not to think about this.
If you do want to think about your funeral, you could discuss your wishes with your family, or write them down for them. Some people include instructions for their funeral in their will. You can get more information about planning a funeral from Age UK and GOV.UK.