Coping With a Life-Threatening Illness
Palliative Care: Improving Life for Patients and Caregivers
Planning for the Future continued...
"Some of my patients just want to be able to go outside and enjoy their garden," Daly says. "Others just want to go and enjoy coffee with their girlfriends without being nauseated. In palliative care, we work toward bringing back those things they've lost. People do have to give up a lot of things when they're ill, but if you fight for symptom control, a lot of those things you enjoy are attainable again."
Planning for the future also means planning for the end, when it does come. That doesn't mean that it's tomorrow. "You can talk about your death without saying that you're ready for it yet," Daly says. "It's just good planning. Honestly, it's something you should do even when you're young and healthy, but no one does. Always be talking with the people you trust most about what you would want done, and who you would want to make the decisions when you can't make them for yourself."
Things to think about include:
- Where would you like to be at the end? (At home, in a hospice, in a hospital?)
- Who would you want to have near you?
- What would be most important to you at that time?
"Planning for this does not mean you're OKy with it happening," Daly says. "But when you plan in advance for the end, it's a lot more likely to be a peaceful experience for you and your family, with less anxiety and tension."
As you make these plans, rely on your palliative care team.
"My goal is that the people who get referred to me live for a very long time," Morrison says. "And we help them manage all of the complications, all of the questions, and all of the resources they need to deal with both the disease and its treatments. That's what we're here for."