5 Things to do After a Loved One Receives a Terminal Diagnosis
When someone you love receives a terminal diagnosis, your world can change overnight. It’s natural to feel helpless in these situations. After all, if a doctor can’t fix the problem, what could you possibly do? But there are simple steps you can take in the wake of a terminal diagnosis to make life just a little easier.
I. Understand the Options
A terminal diagnosis can mean many different things, so your first step should be to determine exactly what your loved one faces. How much time do they have left? Are there available treatments or procedures that could give them extra time? What are the stages of your loved one’s disease and how will their quality-of-life change as it progresses? Information is power and knowing everything you can will make your action plan that much easier to implement.
II. Build a Team
The journey you’re about to take will be difficult and you won’t want to go it alone. With that in mind, you’d be wise to start searching for people who can help. Does your loved one have friends, family members, or trusted clergy who can be counted on to provide support or aid? Once that team is in place, determine what each member is willing to do and keep them updated on your loved one’s needs.
III. Address Legal and Financial Issues
When it’s appropriate, ask your loved one if they have a will. If they do, ask who they’ve designated as executor. If they don’t have a will, take steps to have one drawn up immediately. Putting these affairs in order while your loved one still can will give everyone added peace of mind. In addition to a will, your loved one should choose their healthcare proxy. A proxy has the legal power to make healthcare decisions for your loved one should they lose the ability to speak for themselves.
IV. Talk About What Your Loved One Wants
For a healthcare proxy to work best, they need to understand their loved one’s wishes. This requires having a few hard conversations about what their final days will look like. For example, do they want heroic medical measures taken on their behalf? If so, to what extent? Every state has its own rules surrounding health care proxies and advanced directives. You can find yours here.
V. Continue Living Your Life
While your world may have changed overnight, it unfortunately will not stop. You’ll still have to work, pay bills, and buy groceries. But along with the more mundane facts of life, you should still take time to enjoy your life. While you’re traveling through this painful journey, make it a point to keep doing the things you’ve always loved to do (even if you do them less often). Go out to eat, go to movies, spend time with your children. The more time you give yourself to recharge, the more energy you’ll have to give to your loved one.
Many patients facing a terminal diagnosis choose to enroll in a hospice program. Hospice care focuses on addressing symptoms and improving a patient’s quality-of-life so they can spend their final days in relative peace and comfort, surrounded by friends and family. This care is paid for by medicare or private insurance and can be administered wherever the patient calls home. For more information about how hospice serves patients, click here.
If you live in the greater Phoenix and would like more information about hospice care, you can call Southland Hospice at (602)-497-4100. During a tremendously difficult time, hospice care can be a godsend for patients and their families. We’d be honored to help you through it.