3 Ways Terminally Ill Patients Can Exercise Autonomy (And How You Can Help!)


Seeing a loved one die from a terminal illness is a life-shattering ordeal. Family members and friends often feel helpless in their roles as mere spectators who stand by and watch as a precious light grows dark. Having some form of action plan in place is a great way to feel involved and reduce feelings of helplessness. Certainly, following the suggestions below will not take the pain away for you or your terminally ill loved one. However, they can allow you to offer your loved one the opportunity to function autonomously, if possible, in their legal matters, physical routines, and religious or spiritual practices.

Legal Autonomy

Established in 1990, the Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) enabled individuals who may become medically or mentally incapacitated to outline their wishes in terms of treatment beforehand. This is typically exercised through an advanced directive. Patients have the right to refuse certain types of treatment and can even decide whether they would like life-preserving therapies such as life support.

How you can help: If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, encourage them to formulate advanced directives so that end-of-life care reflects his or her wishes. Never assume you know what a loved one would want. Individuals suffering from some types of cancer may choose to end their life in a "death with dignity" approach, like this 29-year old patient, and may not wish to subject themselves and loved ones to excessive pain and suffering. 

Physical Autonomy

Cancer patients, for instance, are at an increased risk of suicide, particularly in cancers with a poor prognosis. There are several reasons for this occurrence, although many revolve around sparing themselves and family members from a lengthy, downward spiral in health and loss of independent functioning. Still, many cancer patients may have the ability to function autonomously almost to the end. 

How you can help: When your loved one loses his or her ability to walk, whether due to pain or fatigue, continue to promote independent functioning. You may be tempted to buy a wheelchair. An even better idea is to provide them with a power mobility scooter from a company like Medical For You. These motorized chairs allow terminally ill patients to have some semblance of freedom and mobility. Many can maneuver through tight spaces and perform well indoors or outdoors. With the help of a power mobility scooter your loved one can complete some aspects of their everyday routine without depending on you to push them around. 

Religious/ Spiritual Autonomy

Coping with a decline in health and functioning can have drastic implications for the mental and emotional well-being of a person. Your loved one may begin to question the meaning of life and his or her existence. He or she may even begin participating in new religious practices and holding beliefs that are very different from their views before diagnosis.

How you can help: Support your loved one in his or her search to find understanding or to seek out a higher power. Offer a listening ear if they choose to discuss spiritual matters and encourage them to pray, meditate, or perform other similar rituals. Many terminally ill patients decide to have "going-away" celebrations to say goodbye to their family and friends prior to death. If your loved one suggests such a ritual, support their decisions and do what you can to help them on their spiritual journey.


15 October 2014

saving on medical equipment expenses

A need for medical equipment comes with a plethora of decisions. Where do you get the supplies? Can you buy the equipment you need cheaper if you buy it in bulk? Will your medical insurance cover the cost 100 percent or will you have to pay some out of pocket expenses? Having gone through this for the past eight years, I have learned a lot about how to get the best possible price on quality equipment for caring for my husband. This blog will show you how to go about buying what you need at the least expense to you and your family.