Patients living with a terminal illness, and those who care for them, are confronted with a profound and difficult situation. Questions about coping, living fruitful days, interacting with loved ones, and preparing for the inevitable will certainly arise. In this guide we'll help answer these questions by connecting you to advice and information from experts around the Web.
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How a patient responds after being diagnosed with a terminal illness cannot be predicted. There are varying degrees of acceptance and denial, and as a friend of loved one, it's important not to push those suffering toward any emotional or spiritual conclusions. The sites in this section describe various ways you can help a friend or family member during this time and, just as important, how you can take care of yourself as caregiver.
- The Web is full of information on interacting with the terminally ill. Searches on health-specific (and general) search engines, using terms like "interacting with terminally ill," yield a plentitude of results. Try Healia.com and Zuula.com to start.
- Use the information on these sites as a starting point to aid your conversations with healthcare professionals.
The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging
has an informative section on seniors and dying at home. The authors discuss your role as a caregiver, how to be supportive, and when to seek professional help for yourself.
The University of Virginia Health System
's page, "Coping with Terminal Cancer," is also appropriate for other terminal illnesses. It reviews the concept of death, anticipatory grief, and how children and adolescents view death.
The World Health Organization
offers this 38-page PDF booklet for caregivers, called "Symptom Management and End of Life Care." Although it's meant for care of people who are dying of AIDS, the information is useful for many terminal illnesses. It covers prevention of virus and bacterial transmission, prevention of problems such as bedsores, what to do for coughing and nausea, how to assess pain, and how to take care of children who are about to lose a parent.
Family Caregiver Alliance
has an article on end-of-life choices, such as whether to use feeding tubes and ventilators. It takes a hard look at how one can make these difficult decisions and offers fact sheets for more guidance.
The BBC's Relationships portal
has a section on coping for the caregivers of people with terminal illnesses. It suggests offering to help with practical tasks, as well as how to be supportive, handle difficult conversations, and boost morale.
has an article on depression in caregivers of the terminally ill.
See the "Related News Articles" at the bottom for more information geared to caregivers.
provides this page on how to support a friend or relative who is dying with tips on how to visit someone who is terminally ill. HealthAtoZ also offers this article
on how good communication with healthcare professionals helps reduce the rate of depression among caregivers of terminally ill patients.
Family Caregiving 101
hosts this informative page on what you need to know as a caregiver. Issues like living wills, keeping detailed records of the patient's medical history (including allergies and medications), and how to deal with and speak with the healthcare team are covered.
's article called "Terminal illness: Interacting with a terminally ill loved one" is laid out in a question-and-answer format. The author, a chaplain with the Mayo Clinic, discusses the feelings of people who are dying and of those who love them.
helps caregivers understand the issues related to artificial nutrition and end-of-life decision making.
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