Seven tips to help you and your loved ones prepare for when your illness progresses
If you have a condition that gets worse over time, such as Parkinson’s, it can be helpful to think about what your wishes are for the future and at the end of your life.
From choosing where you might like to be cared for, to arrangements for a family pet, it can give you peace of mind to have thought ahead. It can also ease stress for your loved ones, as they’ll know your wishes.
Even if you’re not approaching the end of your life, you can still plan ahead. It could be helpful if there’s a time in the future when you aren’t able to tell people what you want.
These tips were written with help from a Marie Curie volunteer, whose dad and sister had terminal illnesses.
While we hope these tips are useful, everyone affected by a terminal illness is different, so it’s important to do what is best for you.
Think about what your wishes are
Some things you might want to consider include:
- how you’d like to be looked after
- who you’d like to spend time with
- how you’d like practical matters dealt with, such as the care of a pet.
These types of questions can help you form an advanced care plan.
Speak to your doctor
If your GP or nurse is aware of what’s important to you they can try to make sure your wishes are met.
Check with them what services are available in your area and what sort of support they can provide.
Let your loved ones know what you want
Whether it’s who you’d like to spend time with, or where you’d prefer to die, if family and carers know what you want, it will mean they’re certain of your wishes.
There are resources that can help your loved ones including information about caring for a friend or family member dying at home.
Remember things can change
You don’t have to stick to any decisions you make. Sometimes circumstances change and your plan might change.
You can change your mind about any decisions you made about your care at any time, as long as you’re able to make decisions (have mental capacity).
Make sure you know the support that’s available to you
Whatever preferences you have about your care, it’s a good idea to have a professional you can turn to for advice and support.
Put your wishes in writing
It’s a good idea to put your wishes down in writing. This means the people close to you and involved in your care have a clear understanding of what you want.
You can make a record of where you’d like to be cared for on your advance care plan.
Make the most of the time you have left
You’re not your illness. Whether you choose to be at home, in a hospice or hospital, take time to do the things that matter to you, if you can.