Dealing With the Practical Implications of a Terminal Diagnosis

There’s really no way to prepare, completely, for a diagnosis of terminal illness for yourself or a loved one. No matter how prepared you think you might be, getting this kind of news may hit you in ways you never anticipated. It’s important to take time to deal with the emotional turmoil at a time like this. But you don’t want to forget to deal with pragmatic considerations, either. There are some important conversations that need to be had, and decisions to be made. Putting off these decisions can end up causing even more stress, and legal or financial problems as well. Here are some questions to ask, when you are ready to deal with the practical implications of a terminal diagnosis.

What will your health insurance cover?

This is important because keeping someone relatively comfortable in the final stages of a terminal illness can involve a lot of medical interventions and round-the-clock care. You need to know what you or your loved one’s insurance plan will cover, and whether it will be necessary to seek additional coverage. Patients who have Medicare can typically expect hospice care to be covered, but those who are privately insured need to double-check. If there are issues with affording end-of-life care or other arrangements, see what other financial options are available to you. It might be possible to sell property if you need additional funds for medical treatment. Another solution might be to refinance your home if you are not planning to have it sold.

What are your medical wishes for end-of-life care?

This is also a good opportunity to talk about preferences for end-of-life care. Some options to discuss include palliative care, which involves keeping a patient as comfortable as possible, with a priority less on prolonging life and more on quality of life for them and their loved ones – but it does not rule out curative care when it is deemed likely to help. Make sure everyone is clear on whether one would prefer to spend one’s final days at home versus in a hospital or care facility. You should also discuss whether the patient has, or wishes to make, a living will, which specifies which treatments they do or do not want. This could also include a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, if you would prefer that CPR not be used, should the heart or lungs stop working. Unless you have a DNR, medical professionals and responders will initiate CPR, should cardiopulmonary activity cease.

Have you made a will?

Creating a will can be daunting, but it is necessary, so you can be sure all your wishes regarding your property and finances will be respected. As far as how you choose to bestow your property, it can be helpful to discuss this with a trusted friend or family attorney, especially if you are trying to avoid any unpleasantness that could arise. Do be sure that you have a plan for major properties and finances – but you can make specifications about small objects of sentimental value, too. If you have minor children, a will is especially important, because this is where you will specify whom you have selected to be their legal guardians. Don’t decide about this without first consulting those involved, however. You can also lay out your requests regarding final arrangements for your funeral, how you wish to be remembered, and whether you would prefer a traditional burial, cremation, or a green alternative. The trustworthy attorneys at Myrick Law Firm can answer any questions you may have about legal end-of-life issues.

The importance of a support network.

No matter what stage you are in, when processing news like this, grieving with loved ones, or planning for practical considerations, having a support network is crucial. If you are unsure how to support a loved one grappling with a terminal diagnosis, try to approach them as calmly and casually as possible to ask how they are feeling and how you can help. There are also organizations that can help support and offer resources to individuals and families facing a terminal illness.

Getting the practical concerns and conversations tended to as soon as reasonably possible is a good idea because it will minimize stress. It will also give you more time to spend with your loved ones as you share memories and give each other emotional support during this difficult time.

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