Thankfully, very few of the physicians have extensive experience observing and caring for someone in their last days. This is the time to gather the family and loved ones to say final goodbyes. They may take turns talking to the patient, holding hands, or simply sitting quietly with him or her. It is also a time if the patient wants to perform any religious ceremonies or other activities before death, so by doing it could be a chance for families and friends to express their love and appreciation for the patient and for each other.
It is important to be prepared to carry out necessary actions during this very emotional time by patients' families so they can have a plan for what to do at the time of death. The hospice nurse and social worker will help you if the patient is in hospice. Talk with the doctor about it so that you will know what to do if the patient is not on hospice.
Many of the typical changes in body function, metabolism, consciousness, and so on that occur as death approaches are described by the American Cancer Society, as well as how the caregiver can assist.
After the Death
Be sure to pay attention to this important note: If you call 911 or emergency medical services (EMS), even after an expected death at home, the law often requires EMS personnel to try to revive the patient or take him or her to a hospital. This can complicate the situation. Be sure that family and friends are ready and know exactly whom to call during such an event so that they don't dial 911 in confusion or panic.
Places to notify after a death:
- The Social Security Office. The mortuary will notify them, but a family member should call the office at 800-772-1213 within a week or two to verify any changes in benefits. Note: There is a death benefit of $255, but it is paid only if there is a surviving spouse or eligible children, and directly to them.
- Any companies where investments are held
- All insurance companies, retirement plans, and fraternal benefit programs
- Title companies for the property. You will need a copy of the death certificate if you want to sell the property.
- Department of Motor Vehicles to change the name on vehicle titles
- Attorney, if probate is necessary
- To change the beneficiary of insurance policies, benefit programmes, investments, and bank accounts
If necessary, you'll need a certified copy of the death certificate to file income taxes for the year of death.