When a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it is normal to experience a range of emotions. From disbelief to uncertainty, shock and despair, both the patient and their family have a lot to cope with. While talking to a doctor might not bring all the solutions you are searching for, it is often positive. Having answers helps to bring peace of mind so you stay involved and plan for the future.
Understand the Condition
When it comes to a health diagnosis, specifics matter. Ask your doctor about the name of the condition. This empowers you to read up on it and better understand it. You might also benefit from understanding the severity, if there is a normal course of decline and what bodily functions the condition impacts. Knowing what stage of the disease your loved one is in helps with planning. Understanding medical needs and limitations now and in the future helps in determining the need for services. These might include in home care, in home health care or hospice.
Fast or Slow Moving
After learning about a terminal diagnosis, it is normal to want it to simply go away. Recognizing that this is not likely to happen helps with coping. Afterwards, an important step is to understand how fast or slow moving the disease is. Some terminal illnesses typically run their course rather quickly. If this is the case, immediately planning for the next few weeks or months is often crucial. In other cases, the condition might move slowly. Sometimes, treatments are available to further slow the disease or help the individual manage symptoms.
Treatment and Side Effects
In some cases, treatments are available for terminal conditions. While these are not expected to make the disease go away, they can prolong life. When deciding to proceed with any treatment, it is helpful to understand what symptoms and side effects you loved one might experience as the result of treatment. This serves two purposes. It helps your family to better manage symptoms before or when they present. It also might assist your family in making important decisions about whether or not treatment is the right choice.
The Team Involved in Care
At this point, it is likely time for the family to make a plan to care for your loved one’s short and long term care needs. Doing this is a team effort. Many medical professionals will likely provide support. These might include professional caregivers, homecare nurses, doctors, specialists, therapists, spiritual advisors and palliative or hospice care workers. Learn their roles, and discuss the options available to you. While your doctor might recommend one agency or course of treatment, it is always your right to look at other options. Since the needs of your loved one can change quickly or unexpectedly, it is helpful to consider a full-service agency that provides a wide-range of home care, home health and hospice services.
After the diagnosis of a terminal illness, take the time to experience the natural emotions that are part of the grieving process. Next, discuss your concerns with your love one’s doctor. Finally, begin to put a plan in place. Salus Homecare in Orange County realizes this is a difficult time in life. We are always here to provide support or answer your questions. To learn more or discuss your loved one’s specific needs, contact us anytime.