Arranging Comprehensive End-of-Life Care for Elders with Cancer

Arranging Comprehensive End-of-Life Care for Elders with Cancer

Bookmark (1)

No account yet? Register

Cancer is a disease no one wants to face. But whether you are the one with cancer or caring for a loved one, contending with a cancer diagnosis inevitably takes a toll. Sometimes, the outcome does not come in the form of remission. Sometimes, it is greeting the new day or taking the next breath.

For some, the outcome is making one’s final days comfortable, meaningful, and peaceful. The reality is that all of us will someday transition out of this life and, for some, cancer will be the reason.

If you or someone you love is facing a terminal cancer diagnosis, planning for end-of-life care makes it possible to meet this last stage of the disease with the dignity, comfort, and peace of mind you and your loved ones deserve.

The Benefits of Remaining at Home

Many people faced with a terminal diagnosis find security and comfort in the ability to remain in their own homes. However, there are some steps that should be taken to ensure that the home is safe and comfortable for someone with an advanced stage of cancer.

Many of the same steps that can be taken to prepare a home for a senior can be used to ensure accessibility for those with cancer. This would include, for example, securing down rugs, removing other obstacles that may pose a fall risk, installing grab bars in bathrooms, and retrofitting doorways and shower stalls for wheelchair access.

In addition to ensuring that the home is safe, secure, and comfortable, it’s also helpful to recruit in-home caregivers to address patients’ evolving needs. For example, home-based caregivers can run errands, help patients with household chores and personal care, including bathing and dressing, and provide much-needed companionship and support.

In-home caregivers can also greatly amplify the benefits of enabling patients to remain at home when nearing the end of life by making it possible for them to remain with friends, family, and their beloved companion animals.

There are few things more comforting than the love of a family pet, and for those facing aggressive cancer, the benefits of simply stroking a purring feline or cuddling with a fluffy puppy cannot be overstated. Companion animals have been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, alleviate depression and anxiety, and promote an overall sense of happiness and well-being. And there is perhaps nothing more precious or more important when you are facing the end of your life than that.

Enlisting Hospice and Palliative Care

For a patient confronting terminal cancer, the love and care of family and friends can be an incomparable source of support, comfort, and companionship. Nevertheless, there are times when a patient’s needs surpass the capabilities of non-professional caregivers.

In times like this, enlisting the services of skilled care providers can mean all the difference to a patient’s comfort and overall quality of life. Hospice care services, for example, are by no means limited to the final stages of a patient’s life.

Hospice care can be enlisted relatively early on following a terminal diagnosis. Similar to palliative care, these skilled nurses and clinicians can offer in-home services to help with disease management and pain control; supporting patients’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being to the greatest extent possible and for as long as possible.

Financial Planning

Anyone who has faced a cancer diagnosis knows that, even with the best medical insurance, cancer can be an obscenely expensive disease. Financial stress relating to cancer treatments can be devastating. Patients who are nearing the end of their lives may experience extreme distress over the perceived financial burden they are leaving their loved one.

This is why effective financial planning is an essential aspect of comprehensive end-of-life care. As profound as the financial weight of cancer care may be for families, there is a range of resources available to help fund treatment and travel, including grants and stipends made available through the American Cancer Society and related organizations. In addition, medical debt forgiveness and low or no-interest repayment plans are available through many health systems.

Proactively pursuing a strong financial plan when you or someone you love is facing the end stages of a terminal diagnosis can provide immense peace of mind, allowing you and your loved ones to focus on what matters most: building memories and cherishing your time together.

The Takeaway

Cancer is cruel and sometimes the best outcome is not allowing it to rob you or your loved one of peace and joy in the final stages of life. Creating a comprehensive end-of-life plan for yourself or someone you love is a difficult, highly emotional journey. Nevertheless, being proactive regarding end-of-life care is an important and empowering act — one that ensures that you and your loved ones find peace, comfort, and security in this final stage of life.