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End of Life Care: 4 Suggestions for Handling the Diagnosis

Jun 1, 2017 by Joan Wurzer

There comes a time in many lives when the best treatments fail and there are no more known cures to stave off death. Other times, seniors may face severe pain, debilitation, or other conditions that they no longer wish to fight through, understanding that things are not going to get better. Instead, they simply wish to die with dignity.


Discussing End of Life Care With a Loved One


Handling a terminal diagnosis is not easy on a senior or their loved ones. Feelings of anger, anxiousness, fear, and simply being overwhelmed are common. Many seniors wonder how they are going to cope in their final weeks or months. Here are four suggestions that can help when trying to handle a diagnosis.


Acceptance: There are generally three types of people when it comes to accepting a terminal diagnosis. One set of people understands what is happening and acknowledges that they are dying. They do not want to spend time worrying about their condition or debating the findings, they simply want to live out the rest of their life the best way that they can. The second group is not ready to accept the diagnosis. They are ready to fight their condition in any way, shape, or form possible. They do not want hospice care, but they look for second, third, or fourth opinions and even experimental studies and medications. The last group is ready to embrace the end. This group has typically fought through a condition for some time and is ready to accept the next stage of their journey. There is no right or wrong answer here and no judgement, but each step after depends on how and to what extent a senior accepts their diagnosis.


Time: While time may be limited, one key to maximizing the time that is left is not becoming overwhelmed with data and information. Take in the reality of the condition and diagnosis in steps and in small doses. Don't allow others to tell you how to feel, how fast to process your feelings, or at what pace to live the remainder of your life.


Faith: While each person has a unique and personal view about faith, there is no more significant time to consider beliefs about life, dying, and what is to come next. Seniors should be encouraged to spend time with the clergy of their choice and to make their peace. Many seniors will have questions that should not be ignored. Instead, allow them to discuss their hopes, fears, thoughts, and faith.


Participation: Seniors should play an active role in their end of life care plan. After all, they are the ones who must work through the pain, frustration, fear, loss, and so forth. Seniors should not be afraid to ask plenty of questions and make their desires known. Palliative care support can help a senior with many aspects of communication and work hand-in-hand with end of life care providers. Both palliative care and end of life care solutions should be considered as soon as possible after the diagnosis to help a senior maximize the quality of the time they have remaining.


In short, a terminal diagnosis is hard, but it does provide a senior a chance to set their affairs in order, make important decisions about their end of life care, and say good-bye. For information about how Comfort Keepers end of life care and support can help your senior loved one in their time of need, contact a senior care coordinator today.


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