Planning Ahead

No matter how far off it may be, it is difficult to think about an end-of-life plan. Talking about it with your family can be even harder. But your loved ones are here to help you. Share with them how you feel, what is important to you and what you want out of your care.

Having a plan in place can help you cope and help ease the process for you and your loved ones. In the long run, it can ease stress, anxiety, and emotional distress.

Starting the discussion with your doctor about your care needs can lead you to local palliative and hospice care resources. An interdisciplinary hospice team (eg, your doctor, hospice physician, nurse, home health aide, social worker, and others) will have helpful resources to support you and your loved ones, including:


  • Managing pain and symptoms
  • Assisting with emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual needs
  • Providing needed drugs, medical supplies, and equipment
  • Coaching the family on how to care for the patient
  • Delivering special services, like speech and physical therapy, when needed
  • Making short-term in-patient care available when pain or symptoms become too difficult to manage at home, or the caregiver needs a break
  • Providing bereavement care and counseling to surviving family and friends

There are helpful resources such as the Cancer Support Community, which provides some directive advice on planning ahead with your loved one.