This article was written and submitted by Craig Meadows.
Being diagnosed with a terminal illness can leave you and your loved ones in shock. You may not know what to do next, and that’s completely normal. As you begin to recover from that shock and look forward to the days and months ahead, however, you will need to take care of some crucial planning points to ensure as much peace, comfort, and stability for all involved. If you or a loved one has received a terminal diagnosis, here are a few steps to consider.
Take Care of Any Legal and Financial Planning
A terminal illness can leave families with many emotions. While it’s always important to process those feelings and manage your mental health, there are also some legal matters to attend to after a terminal diagnosis. Those who are preparing for the end of life should make arrangements with an attorney to have a last will and testament drawn up, as well as any documentation needed to provide caretakers with power of attorney. As part of this planning, it may also be a good idea to complete other estate planning, such as designating any charitable contributions and figuring out how to finance your funeral/burial. Considering that the average funeral costs $6,260 to $8,755, depending on the services you select, it’s a good idea to prepare in advance for these expenses.
Plan for a Peaceful and Comfortable Transition
As part of the planning above, those with a terminal diagnosis will likely complete paperwork to outline any advanced medical directives. Thinking about how you wish to die may feel uncomfortable at first, but contemplating and planning for final moments can ensure a more peaceful end. Advance directives will help create this environment, but it may also be beneficial to make accessibility changes to the home. These upgrades can help provide additional comfort, but they can also come with additional costs. Refinancing options can be a simple way to cover those costs for homeowners. This is when your current mortgage is replaced with a loan covering a larger amount. The difference is paid out in cash, and you continue making monthly mortgage payments to repay the new loan. If you need more information on the subject, this guide from PennyMac can provide you with more details.
Research and Understand End-of-Life Care Options
In addition to making comfort-boosting changes to the home, it is also important for terminally ill patients to make arrangements for comfortable care. That care will likely look different as time and the illness progresses, so it’s important for patients and loved ones to look into the available options. Home health care will provide essential services, whether it’s physical therapy, nursing care, or other assistance, in the comfort of home. As the patient approaches the end of life, hospice care services can provide the care needed to ease the transition. While home health care aims to address specific needs, hospice care serves as a comprehensive way to provide emotional, physical, and even spiritual support to the dying and their loved ones. This makes it an invaluable care option for the terminally ill.
Discuss End-of-Life Decisions and Processes as a Family
One of the most difficult things for the terminally ill and their family members is to openly discuss the necessary planning and arranging mentioned above. Talking about death is just as important as planning for a peaceful passing, so it’s crucial to plan out these tough conversations. In addition to mapping out final wishes and funeral arrangements on paper, those who are dealing with a terminal diagnosis also need to discuss these plans with loved ones. Plan these conversations for a time when everyone is relatively calm, and try to remain as calm as possible. It may take more than one conversation to cover all of the details, so exercise patience and understanding as you communicate with loved ones during this challenging time.
Processing the end of life will never be easy. There’s no good way to plan for all of the thoughts and emotions involved with losing someone to a terminal illness. That’s why it is important for those who are terminally ill to plan for as much as possible.
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