What to Do If An Elderly Person Dies at Home
Published July 24, 2020
When asked where they would like to pass away, 80% of Americans preferred to die in their homes. Surprisingly, though, only 20% get to do that. It’s relatively common for elderly loved ones to pass away in their homes, especially if they foresee their approaching death.
When an elderly person dies at home, it can be a startling situation for some. The reaction usually depends on the circumstances surrounding one’s death. If this was something the family prepared for, the process that follows is generally a smooth one. But if death happens unexpectedly, this can be extremely stressful for the family.
When a loved one has reached a ripe old age, it would be best for immediate family members to discuss end-of-life plans. I would go as far as saying that it is your responsibility as a family to sort everything out. As uncomfortable as this process is, it’s a reality we all must face. Additionally, it will save you from complications and disagreements once your loved one’s time comes.
We’ve come up with what you ought to do if an elderly person dies at home, and we’ve separated them into two parts. These two parts are when a person dies at home in hospice, and when they die unexpectedly.
What to do when an elderly person dies at home in hospice?
Hospice refers to the end-of-life care patients receive when they are terminal. Terminal means patients have less than six months to live at the time of diagnosis. What this means is that death was planned for and expected.
According to Healthline, the following are symptoms when someone is dying:
- sleeping more in recent months
- eating and drinking less
- withdrawing from people
- changing vital signs
- changing waste functions
- dropping body temperatures
- weakening muscles
- breathing troubles
- increasing confusion
Now that we know what the signs are, here are immediate things to do if that loved one ultimately passes:
- Check vital signs. Try to find a pulse and check for any sign of breathing.
- Don’t panic. If death is an expected one, you don’t have to take any immediate action. You can spend the time you need with your loved one, and say some final parting words.
- Call the designated physician or aide in charge of medical care. Once you are ready, contact the proper hospice authority to pronounce the death of your loved one. If applicable, have a “Do-Not-Resuscitate” (DNR) document available. This will prevent any emergency life-prolonging procedures from being conducted.
- Locate your loved one’s end-of-life wishes. You’ll want to use these documents as a guide in carrying out funeral arrangements and the like.
- Call the funeral home. Arrange transportation with the selected funeral home to take care of the body.
- Dependent and pet care. You should also arrange for the care of pets and dependents under the deceased.
- Notify the departed’s employer. If the departed loved one was employed at the time of death, you have to notify their employer on their behalf. This is to handle their due wages and life insurance policies.
What to do when an elderly person dies at home unexpectedly?
Unexpected deaths are a completely different affair from expected ones. They can be stressful, not to mention downright traumatic for people. What follows is a tedious process that typically involves police and other authorities. You have to be extremely cautious when approaching deaths like these. Here are the things you ought to do in situations like this:
- Call 911 immediately. Contrary to expected deaths, you should call the emergency services as soon as you realize your loved one has died. First responders will take photographs, gather evidence, and transport the body to the morgue.
- Locate the DNR document. If the deceased prepared a DNR document before their death, you should have it available when the responders arrived.
- Do not touch anything at the scene. Investigators will routinely inspect the scene for any foul play or homicide. You will want to avoid tampering with anything at the site of death.
Contact aftermath services. Aftermath services are professionals in charge of discreetly cleaning up and sanitizing where your loved one died. They do this with hospital-level disinfection techniques that are OSHA-approved.
About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.