Initial steps to take after a terminal diagnosis

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Terminal diagnosis is a term used to describe an illness that cannot be cured. This type of illness will not go away and there are no treatments available to make the disease go into remission. It usually means death is imminent, with most patients living for six months or less after diagnosis.  It’s difficult to provide hope when there isn’t any available treatment or cure. The following article explores a few steps you can take to plan for the inevitable.

What to do after receiving your terminal diagnosis…

The first thing to do is to talk with your health care team about possible treatments. If you have a terminal condition such as cancer or dementia, the goal is not always to extend your life but rather to make it more comfortable. Therefore, you may decide to skip treatments that will only further exhaust your body.  If you do decide to start with treatments, it is also important to consider what will happen if they don’t work.  Hospice Care is an option meant prioritize quality of life and comfort care, as well as provide emotional and/or spiritual support for you and your immediate family members when treatment is no longer an option.

Next, you should invite family members and close friends over for a meeting regarding your diagnosis. At this meeting, families can discuss their fears and share what they want life to be like when the person with the terminal condition passes away.  If your illness is preceded by symptoms such as dementia or confusion, make sure you are ready for that transition. You may wish to share with family members how you would like them to interact with you. For example, you could say that you do not want your children to be around when you are confused. Be sure to share this information with all family members so they know what to expect.

Finally, make sure your home is safe and ready for the end of life journey. If you need a ramp or door widened in order to accommodate a wheelchair, take care of it now. If you have to move to a new home, do so now; this will help everyone adjust faster to the transition.

While this article gives an overview of what to do after receiving a terminal diagnosis, know that there are many other steps you can take. Do not be afraid to ask for more advice from your health care team or family members on how to make the most of your remaining time.

If you’d like to learn more about palliative or hospice care, or schedule an evaluation, contact us.

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