When a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness, there’s always a lot to think about, from how to make them comfortable to how best to take care of them once they can no longer take care of themselves.
It can be a very difficult time to get through, bringing stress, grief, anxiety, and sadness that make it hard to focus on the good moments you’ll still have with your loved one. You may not know what to say or how to help them feel better. Not only that, you may be worried about the financial aspect of caring for a terminally-ill individual, especially if their insurance policy doesn’t cover hospice care.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help make the process go more smoothly, both for you and your loved one. Start by having a conversation about what your loved one wants in terms of their final arrangements; these are very personal plans that may include details you haven’t thought about, such as organ donation. Read on for some great tips on how to help a loved one through a terminal illness and what considerations to make.
Start a conversation
It can be difficult to think about starting a conversation with your loved one about their final wishes, but it’s an important part of making sure they are well taken care of. You might begin by asking if they have important paperwork and official documents that you need to be aware of; this includes information from their doctor, health and life insurance policies, and any paperwork related to their home, automobile, and retirement funds. If they have a will or other directive, you’ll need to know where it is and how to access it.
It’s imperative that you and your loved one start planning for the financial end of things, especially if their health insurance policy doesn’t cover hospice care or an extended hospital stay. Depending on the nature of their illness, they may require more care than you or another family member can give them at home. If they own their home, you might talk to them about downsizing, or they might consider selling it and moving in full time with you or another member of the family. This will free up a large lump sum to help pay for their needs.
Find out about their life insurance
Life insurance can be extremely helpful when it comes to paying for a funeral or other end-of-life services, but in some cases, it can also help pay for medical bills and other large debts after a loved one dies. Get familiar with the type of insurance they have, how to receive a payout, and whether or not your loved one can borrow money against it. Do some research into how much the policy will diminish if your loved one takes out a loan.
Consider hospice care
Hospice can be extremely helpful for a terminally-ill individual, as it can provide care that family members cannot, both in terms of length of time and medication and equipment. Especially for those that are living with Alzheimer’s or another cognitive disease and can’t be left alone, hospice care can be invaluable.
Do some research to find out if a home setup is ideal or if a facility is a better option. If opting to stay in the home for palliative care, you’ll want to make sure accommodations are made for your loved one so it’s a more comfortable setting. If opting for somewhere out of the home, be sure to consider location, especially if you and other family members will be taking turns visiting.
Helping a loved one through a terminal illness can take a big toll on you emotionally and physically, so it’s important to take care of yourself during this time as well. Take a timeout when you need a break, and don’t forget to ask for help when you need it.