End of Life​

What is "end of life"?

The term “end of life” refers to the final stages of a person’s life, typically when they are facing a terminal illness or advanced age and are approaching death. A decline in health, increased vulnerability, and the anticipation of an imminent death characterize this phase. End-of-life care is a specialized form of medical and emotional support provided to individuals in this stage, with the primary goal of ensuring comfort, dignity, and the highest possible quality of life during their final days.

Diagnosis​

Key aspects of end-of-life care include:

  1. Palliative Care: This type of care focuses on relieving symptoms and improving the quality of life for individuals with serious illnesses, whether they are expected to recover or are nearing the end of life. Palliative care can be provided at any stage of an illness and is not limited to those facing imminent death.
  2. Hospice Care: Hospice care is a specific type of end-of-life care designed for individuals with a life expectancy of six months or less. It emphasizes comfort, pain management, and emotional support, often delivered in the patient’s home or a specialized hospice facility.
  3. Advance Care Planning: End-of-life care often involves discussions about the individual’s wishes for medical treatment, such as using life-sustaining measures, and the designation of a healthcare proxy or creating advance directives.
  4. Emotional and Spiritual Support: Addressing the emotional and spiritual needs of individuals and their families is  integral to end-of-life care. This may involve counseling, chaplaincy services, or other forms of support.
  5. Family Involvement: End-of-life care recognizes the importance of involving family members and loved ones in decision-making and providing them with support and resources to cope with the impending loss.

 

It’s important to note that end-of-life care is a holistic approach encompassing physical, emotional, social, and spiritual dimensions. The specific needs and preferences of the individual are central to the care provided. Healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, social workers, and other specialists, often collaborate to ensure that  patients’ and families’ needs are met with compassion and respect.

End-of-life discussions and decisions can be challenging, and individuals facing terminal illnesses may benefit from open communication with healthcare providers, family, and friends to ensure that their wishes are known and respected.

Treatment options​

A man on a couch being treated with sedative IV therapy

Ketamine Assisted Therapy (KaT)

Ketamine-Assisted Therapy is a new therapy technique that combines ketamine with adjunct psychotherapy. Ketamine is used in end of life care as a pain management medication. However, recent research demonstrates that ketamine, in cohort with therapy, is an effective treatment for anxiety-related conditions such as end-of-life distress. Ketamine therapy’s enhancement of emotional processing, and induction of an altered state of consciousness may allow for the alleviation of end-of-life anxiety.

A woman on a couch in therapy

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or counselling, is a well-established technique that has been an effective modality for a variety of mental health conditions. Therapy techniques may be effective in navigating end-of-life distress by helping people maintain dignity, meaning and peace as they approach the end of life. Dignity therapy and meaning-centered psychotherapy may be prudent techniques to help manage anxiety caused by end-of-life.

A woman receiving rTMS, with a doctor positioning a machine near her head.

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)​

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive medical treatment that regulatory authorities have approved for the treatment of various neuropsychiatric conditions. Case study results suggest improvements in depression and anxiety symptoms throughout treatment. However, the literaturesurrounding rTMS for end-of-life care is mixed. It is important to discuss with your physician to see if this could be a viable treatment option.

A group of people seated in comfortably in a furnished office space.

Special Access Program (SAP)

Health Canada’s Special Access Program enables the use of certain psychedelic substances that are not marketed in Canada as requested by practitioners. Access is typically granted for treating, diagnosing, or preventing serious or life-threatening conditions when conventional therapies or medications have failed. End-of-life related anxiety falls under the category of serious or life-threatening conditions and has been shown to be an effective option for those transitioning through end-of-life. Psilocybin trials have been largely successful in reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms related to end-of-life distress.

Reach Out

If any of this strikes a chord for you or for a loved one, please take some time to reflect on these considerations before reaching out to us to book an Info Session. From there, we can support you in determining whether one of our treatments could be right for you, and how to begin your healing journey with Cena Life.