Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum, Howard Giles and Amber Worthington
Chapter Eight: Family Decision Making and Care at the End of Life
Family Decision Making AND Care AT THE End OF Life
LORETTA L. PECCHIONI
RICHARD C. WHITE
When we think of the end of life, we tend to focus on the individual who is dying; individuals, however, are nested in families. The death of one family member impacts other family members because they are interdependent—what happens to one member influences the others. Families are dynamic systems. While an individual family member may die, the family continues. In this chapter, we consider decision making by family members not only before and during the dying process of one of its members, but also after that death, as the family works to reconfigure itself.
Across the lifespan, health-related issues are central to family life (Pecchioni & Keeley, 2011). Families are the primary source of caregiving from birth to death, whether that care is the business of our daily lives, or focused during a health crisis. Habits established in childhood lay the groundwork for adulthood, potentially prolonging or negatively impacting the quality and quantity of life. Family members discuss a wide range of health-related topics, including nutrition, exercise, alcohol and substance use and abuse, sexuality and sexual health, and death and dying (Pecchioni, Overton, & Thompson, 2015). Families may discuss these topics more or less explicitly, while the behaviors that are enacted around health issues also send messages about how a particular family understands health and illness.
At the end...
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