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J. Dietrich Stroeh is author of Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from Heartbreak to Healing (2012 Folkheart Press). For more information, visit .
Planning for Healthcare
By J. Dietrich Stroeh, author of 'Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from Heartbreak to Healing'
Hearing a loved one is sick is not only shocking, it can leave you asking yourself
“what next?” Once a terminal diagnosis is on the table and a few of the basics of
treatment and care have been explored, for many people a discussion of healthcare
wishes, finances and insurance may make sense.
Depending on the nature of the illness, talking about completing a durable power of attorney and being clear about what heroic measures or life sustaining practices the loved one wants can make a great deal of difference later should the disease progress quickly. For my wife Margaret and myself, her pancreatic cancer was aggressive and the time we had from the unexpected diagnosis to her death was just 3 months. We found that knowing what resources we had and keeping an open line of communication with both the doctors and close family made things run smoother.
About Your Resources
Once a level of care has been determined, especially if the loved one is heading home, it is important that any skills training for home care occurs with a professional prior to when care begins in the home. Do a little detective work on a local level to find out what services beyond your level of expertise or time allotment will be needed. Research to figure out how you can add to the level of care you need to provide. Reach out through the local hospitals or clinics to find out what programs are available. Investigate through local social services what organizations in your community can lend a hand. Sometimes a simple internet search can bring surprisingly helpful information.
Have a Plan
Having a plan that reflects what the loved one wants will clear the way for the work that must be done. If necessary, forms can be signed and legal arrangements made before the situation becomes critical. Crisis can make it impossible for some to think or act clearly.
Once health care decisions have been made, everyone can focus instead on enjoying the quality of time that remains.
1. Tips for At Home Care: