Being diagnosed with a terminal illness naturally produces a great deal of anxiety and other negative emotions, and no two people will react the same way. Emotions like fear, anger, and even depression are normal, and such a diagnosis can even lead to serious emotional issues for a period of time. There’s no correct way to feel about this news, but the way a person reacts to it can make a great deal of difference in both their quality of life and perhaps even their recovery process.
The health benefits of positive thinking are well-known, such as increased resilience, reduced stress, and improved coping skills. These are great traits to have following a serious diagnosis, especially when curative treatment is still on the table. There are several constructive ways to react to a terminal illness, and they can help you and your loved ones prepare for whatever comes.
Understandably, many patients don’t want to spend their remaining time in a hospital, both due to the stress it brings and the financial burden. Fortunately, as technology and other resources have gotten better, terminal patients have more options for care, even during the end of life stage. At-home hospice care is entirely possible and has many great benefits.
What is hospice care?
“Hospice” can be a scary word for families to hear, although this is often due to a misconception about what hospice care actually means. While it’s true that it’s associated with the end of life, it doesn’t mean that all hope for curative options has been abandoned. Rather, it’s about making the patient as comfortable as possible, prioritizing their wishes above all else, and ensuring that they receive all the proper care they would get in a hospital.
Naturally, the greatest benefit of at-home hospice care is that it gives the patient a familiar and comfortable environment, unlike a hospital, nursing home, or even a traditional hospice center. This also gives the patient a sense of dignity that they wouldn’t find in an institution, and you can rest assured that staff is on call at all hours to provide personalized care. Hospice care also generally reduces the financial stress of hospital fees, and Medicare and private insurance policies can help cover costs. There are many different at-home care agencies you can work with, and you may want to ask friends and extended family members if they’ve had experience with anyone they’d recommend.
The benefits of at-home care are undeniable, but you’ll need to take care of a few things to prepare. Here are some of the most important.
Make choices together.
Before starting any other preparations, it’s absolutely crucial that the home-care plan is made by the patient and their loved ones together. Ultimately, any care plan is only going to be as good as the patient allows it to be, so make sure you understand their wishes before moving forward. You’ll need to know if your loved one is having any difficulties living in their home currency, how you can improve the home to better fit their needs, what kind of professional help you’ll need, and much more.
Making decisions together gives the client a sense of agency in their care and will likely make them more open to experiences they may not have been otherwise. Remember, the patient’s wishes must always come first.
Ensure the home is safe and comfortable.
To make sure at-home care is as effective as possible, you’ll need to get the house ready beforehand. This largely means doing a lot of the same things you would do to make a house safe and comfortable for senior residents. Make sure any outdoor steps or ramps are well-lit and include railings wherever you think there’s a danger of falling. It’s a great idea to install grab bars in the bedroom and bathroom too, and it’s best to have either a walk-in shower or non-slip mats installed in the bathroom.
Naturally, you’ll need to keep all walking paths in the house accessible and clutter-free, and you may want to invest in some at-home care technology. This could be things as simple as an easy-to-use phone that lets the patient dial by selecting pictures. You may also decide to install camera systems or use wearable technology that can monitor the client’s vital signs and symptoms.
It’s likely that the patient will be spending a great deal of time in bed, so it’s crucial that you provide them with the comfort they deserve. With a Stearns and Foster mattress, you’ll be getting a luxury firm mattress with memory foam, ventilated coils, and a Tencel stretch knit covering that offers the perfect comfort and support. A new mattress is one of the best ways to make sure your loved one lives as comfortably as possible during the time they have left.
Look out for the patient’s mental health.
You’ll no doubt have a nurse and other professionals on call to monitor the client’s physical health, but make sure you don’t neglect their mental health either. A long term physical illness can be accompanied by mental illness as well, and this can greatly compound existing issues. Use a reputable therapist matching site to search “psychotherapist near me.”
Psychotherapists can help with all sorts of issues including anxiety, depression, grief, life transitions, trauma, addiction, and much more. If your loved one seems to be suffering persistent psychological problems despite your support, consider contacting a psychologist or counselor. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), in particular, can be helpful for identifying and altering negative thinking patterns or behaviors. Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) can also help a great deal with managing stressful life transitions. The right therapist can create an effective treatment plan that works around your schedule and that’s tailored to your loved one.
Decide how to manage finances.
While home care is generally cheaper than staying in an institution, it can still quickly rack up fees, especially if other doctor visits are still happening. You’ll have to work with the client to ensure all the costs can be covered. They, or your family, might be well off enough to handle the expenses with no problems, but if not, you still have other options.
A potentially great option is a viatical settlement. This is similar to a life settlement in that it involves a person selling their life insurance policy to a third party in exchange for a lump sum payout greater than the cash value of the policy but lower than the death benefit. The third-party buyer then becomes the new owner of the insurance policy and takes overpaying the monthly premium in exchange for receiving the death benefit after the insured passes. For those who don’t need their life insurance policy anymore, or who simply can’t afford care or treatments any other way, this can be a sensible option.
While life settlements are available to any owner of a life insurance policy who wants to sell, viatical settlements are typically only offered to the terminally ill or patients with chronic illnesses with a low life expectancy (generally two to four years). They’re generally paid in just a few business days after the applicant completes a signed agreement. A huge benefit of viatical settlement transactions is that the sum of money received is tax-free and can be used for any purpose. You may want to work with a viatical broker to find the viatical settlement provider who can offer the best deal.
At-home care is often a better option for terminal patients and their families to make the most out of their remaining life expectancy rather than spending time in a hospital. Just make sure to work with your loved ones, and put their wishes first to make them as comfortable as possible.