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Your Later Life Q4 2021

Why prepare for death? To give us peace and control

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Dr Libby Ferguson

Medical Director, Marie Curie Hospice, Glasgow

At the hospice, we care for people nearing the end of life and approaching death in different ways. As their doctor, here’s what I’ve learned about how people prepare and what can help to make it easier.


People often ask if it is depressing working in palliative care. Whilst it can be emotionally challenging, palliative care is not just about dying, it is about helping people live as well as they can in the face of a terminal illness.

The way people react to knowing they’ll die soon can vary from denial, anger, fear and disbelief to a stoical acceptance of their situation.

Listening and being there with people is so important: exploring what matters to them and offering reassurance and support.

Fear of uncertainty 

There can be a great sense of loss around their physical decline, accompanied by loss of independence and change in role in family and society.

People may worry about what lies ahead. Who will make decisions for them, what happens when you die, will it be painful, is there life after death and how their family will cope without them?

Other concerns can be more practical. For example, how they’ll cope at home as they become weaker and where they’ll be cared for if it’s no longer possible to remain at home.

Financial concerns can also be a significant issue along with getting their ‘affairs in order’.

Importance of listening and support 

In my experience, listening and being there with people is so important: exploring what matters to them and offering reassurance and support.

Being a part of the hospice team, we can help with many of the practical issues that come up, to ease the burden for patients and families. Everyone will die one day, taking practical steps like making a will and appointing a power of attorney can bring peace of mind. I would encourage everyone to speak to those close to you about what matters to you and your wishes if you became unwell.

If you, or someone you know, is affected by terminal illness, dying, death or bereavement, then the Marie Curie Support Line team are ready to help with practical information and emotional support when you need it, including a bereavement support service.

Call free 0800 090 2309 or visit Mariecurie.org.uk 

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Home » Legacy » Why prepare for death? To give us peace and control
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Ensuring digital technology is accessible for all generations

Harriet Gridley

UK Director, No Isolation

Human contact, love and close relationships are important for everyone, no matter their age or physical abilities.


There is a growing concern that smartphones and social media have largely moved social networks from analogue to digital platforms, often leaving the technologically inexperienced and elderly behind.

No one should be made to feel stupid, dependent on others, or excluded from the internet, yet 46% of people 75 and over in the UK are not online (ONS, 2021). Age UK reports that 1.4 million older people in the UK are often lonely, with the number potentially much higher.

Addressing the digital divide

Most digital technology is simply not accessible to older users, due to many reasons such as memory loss, reduced circulation in fingertips and auditory impairments. The digital divide has never mattered more.

We all have an experience of helping our older relatives use tech a nd then realising how difficult it can be.

Most digital technology is simply not accessible to older users.

At No Isolation, we want to empower everyone to have meaningful digital connections when their situation prevents them from connecting in person. Our recent research estimates as many as 5.6 million people over the age of 65 in the UK find touchscreens difficult or impossible to use (Source: No Isolation, 2021).

Simplifying existing technology – such as smartphones and tablets – is not the answer to truly inclusive design.

One solution is Komp, which is operated using only one button but enables those who have been digitally excluded to engage in video calls and content sharing with their loved ones.

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