Everyone is aware of the concept of terminal illness, but it’s a completely different matter when either you or a senior loved one develops one of their own. This period is emotionally turbulent, making it crucial to learn how to cope with terminal illness as a patient or a loved one. Here is a guide to help you to understand terminal illnesses.
What Is Terminal Illness?
Irreversible, incurable illnesses fall under one of two categories: chronic illness and terminal illness. Chronic illnesses in and of themselves aren’t usually fatal, patients being able to live out their lives in full to a manageable extent. On the other hand, terminal illnesses, one of them being late-stage cancers, directly cuts patients’ lives short.
However, people who experience a combination of different medical conditions or complications that are expected to result in death are also considered “terminally ill”. For example, the chronic illness multiple sclerosis (MS), combined with infections and other complications, can lead to a patient becoming terminally ill.
How Long Can Terminally Ill Elderly Patients Survive for?
Terminally ill patients usually receive an estimate of the amount of time they’re likely to remain alive from their physician. Usually, patients and their loved ones judge and make plans around the patient’s estimated survival time from the physician. However, most physicians have shown to be on the optimistic side with their estimates, some being accurate and others being on the pessimistic end. Hence, the estimated survival time can be the basis of a guideline for you or a loved one in the final stages. However, the estimate isn’t necessarily accurate.
How Can Terminal Illness Affect Patients Emotionally?
All terminally ill patients experience and respond to terminal illness differently. However, many share emotions in common, such as:
For those who are given enough time and resources to come to terms with their terminal illness, they may even reach a stage of acceptance in which they’re able to embrace their approaching mortality.
How Can a Terminally Ill Patient Respond?
If you are a patient facing a terminal illness, it could be difficult to rationally decide on a course of action after a diagnosis. You could firstly ask for a second opinion, which can either give you new hope or at least, eliminate your doubts about the nature of your illness. Furthermore, you can also proactively plan for your future after the diagnosis by discussing your care plans with your physician and loved ones, covering topics such as treatment methods and care environments.
How Can a Loved One Support a Coping Patient?
If you are a loved one of an individual battling a terminal illness, you may be lost on how to be a supportive figure during this stage. A good rule of thumb would be to listen actively. Respecting your loved one’s wishes, and listening without judgment, while seemingly simple at first, will provide your loved one with a surprising amount of strength in these challenging times.
If you’re exploring potential care environments for a loved one, we at Discovery Village At Boynton Beach would be happy to provide support whenever needed. Our senior living options accommodate elderly residents’ health conditions, ensuring a satisfying residential experience during challenging times.