There is nothing that can reduce the blow of losing a loved one. When someone in your family or circle of friends is diagnosed with a terminal illness, you’ll face struggles that you’ll have to manage one day at a time. Apart from spending your time wisely with this person, you’ll want to know what to expect and what actions you can take to make their final months more bearable.
Difficult as it might be, this involves end-of-life planning. You’ll have to address the core of the issue and chart your course from treatment to funeral. Once you’ve covered the essentials, you’ll be better able to focus on their care. No feuds and misunderstandings will inflict further pain to your loved one, and it will make the final stages of their life as organized and peaceful as can be.
If you don’t know where to start, here are some helpful tips on going about end-of-life planning.
Begin as Early as Possible
Nobody wants to start this conversation, especially when you’ve just received the news that your loved one won’t live for long. Breaking this invisible barrier as early as possible, however, is critical. It allows everyone to evaluate their contribution in care and finances, and you’ll learn what your loved one prefers.
When you avoid this conversation, you could end up making decisions that are against their wishes. Perhaps you think staying in the hospital is best for them when what they want is to return to their home in Texas. In this case, you could agree on services offered by a hospice.
Another reason to attend to this right away is that it’s easier to agree on things when your loved one can still participate. There are legal and financial aspects to end-of-life planning that you might not be able to handle without due arrangements such as a power of attorney.
Focus on the Patient’s Wishes
It could be that your loved one can no longer make legal decisions due to their disease. As such, you’ll want to make sure that every decision you make is considerate of their values and known preferences. If you’re uncertain about some things, sit down with the people who know them best and discuss it with them. You can cite conversations and incidents that reflect their personality and could validate the soundness of your decisions.
Seek Mediation Assistance
Is your family in disagreement over one or two arrangements made on behalf of your loved one? Perhaps your loved one themselves don’t feel like they are heard, and there are now sides being taken. This is not uncommon, especially during end-of-life planning. Should there be no simple means to resolve this amongst yourselves, get mediation assistance. There are hospice specialists and trained doctors who can help you sort family conflicts out once and for all.
Now is the time to magnify your objective lens over the situation. Gather credible materials and study them with the primary decision-makers in your family. This should put you in a similar frame of mind over many things like caregiving during the final stages of your loved one’s life. While the experience will vary per person, there are things you can anticipate and prepare for.
Perhaps it’s their sudden loss of appetite and bladder control. This is especially important if you are caring for them at home, even with professional assistance. You won’t want to be caught off-guard by their unresponsiveness because it’s common for some diseases to restrict their speech. If this should happen, talk to them like usual because they are still likely to hear you normally.
This objective view can also help you manage the emotional impact this will have on your loved one’s children and the other important people in their lives.
Provide Emotional Support for the Patient
Another advantage of educating yourself in this matter is that you are in a better position to provide emotional support for your loved one. The limitations they’ll experience, such as the inability to walk, talk, and perform menial tasks, can take their toll. They might also develop concerns about being a burden to everyone. Expecting these things and knowing the appropriate responses will help them manage these emotions better.
Let them vent and be honest about their fears. Just because they do, however, doesn’t mean you should, also. Reciprocating by expressing your own fears will only amplify theirs.
Get Support for Yourself
Caregiving is an exhausting job, and if you don’t get support for yourself, you might end up burdening instead of helping your loved one. Schedule meetings with friends or sign up for therapy. Ask for as much help as you need in caregiving, and never shoulder the task alone. Remember that your loved one will want to see you happy too.