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Getting older can be a worrisome prospect for many, especially for seniors with mounting health issues that don’t appear to have any relief in sight. We are all aware of the age-related health complications that tend to arise after the age of 65 or 70. Being told you have cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or other severe health conditions can be devastating.

So, how does one handle such an unfavorable diagnosis?

Education is often the first recommended step. Find out everything you can about the illness or disease to become as familiar as possible with all of its different aspects.

Determining the severity of the illness you or your loved one has been diagnosed with is also crucial. This will help narrow down options, and figure out what path will be the most effective.

The largest distinction would typically be whether or not the illness is terminal, or if there is a cure for it. There is help available in both situations, with two different paths of treatment and approach.

Terminal Illness Diagnosis

If you are facing a terminal disease, your options will obviously be a bit more limited. Even if the diagnosis is incurable, however, there can still be a positive solution. With the right assistance and support, terminal patients can go on to live out their remaining days around family and friends and maintain a comfortable quality of life.

Palliative or Hospice Care

Both of these terms apply to care provided for patients that have received a severe diagnosis. The intention is to provide comfort and support for patients as well as their families.

Palliative Care

Palliative care focuses on managing pain, and unwanted symptoms of the disease, rather than trying to eliminate it. It can begin immediately after a diagnosis has been determined and continue concurrently along with the treatment.

Palliative care services can be extremely helpful to terminal patients, as well as their families. Some of the benefits to be enjoyed are:

  • Pain management and symptom relief
  • Can be provided at home to allow for maximum comfort, convenience, and safety
  • Get knowledge and guidance about the illness from a professional
  • Improve quality of daily life for friends and family members
  • Ongoing physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual support

A holistic approach to palliative care explores all aspects of the situation and takes careful consideration of an array of factors, rather than focusing squarely on physical effects of the illness.

Hospice Care

Hospice care is designed exclusively for terminal patients and is provided after treatment has stopped because it has been deemed no longer effective.

Hospice care can also be beneficial to patients and families, especially when provided in the comfort of home by professional caregivers. Some of the benefits of home hospice care include:

  • Professional support in a safe and familiar environment
  • Personalized care based on specific needs and preferences
  • Established routine to minimize pain and discomfort
  • Dignity and serenity
  • Patient-focused care to correspond with patients wishes and requests
  • Support for family members

Less Severe Diagnoses

If a diagnosis is not terminal, there will likely be a wider range of options, depending on the specific analysis.


If the diagnosis is for a particular illness like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia, there are specialized services that can be very helpful. There are a variety of treatments designed to increase mental stimulation while trying to minimize cognitive impairment.

Musculoskeletal Conditions

Another possibility is that the diagnosis is for something a little less serious, like arthritis or osteoporosis. While not life-threatening, these musculoskeletal conditions can still have crushing effects if not properly addressed.

Home Support and Personal Care services can be a huge benefit for seniors struggling with strength, flexibility, and mobility issues.

Tips for Dealing with a Discouraging Diagnosis

A bleak medical diagnosis is not a reason to lose hope and give up. If the situation is dealt with in a timely and effective manner, there is reason to be optimistic.

Suggestions for making this happen include:

  • Make a list of your questions, concerns, and goals
  • Explore your emotions
  • Be patient and adaptable
  • Take charge
  • Get qualified assistance

Making Lists

Writing things out in lists is often a therapeutic way to deal with problems effectively by figuring out your priorities and then devising a realistic plan. This may be helpful when done together with family members, so everyone is on the page and has a similar understanding of the situation.

Writing down questions and concerns makes it easier to communicate with healthcare professionals and can also help establish goals and aspirations.

Exploring Emotions

Many people tend to shut down in the face of a crisis and feel it is easier to ignore painful and conflicting emotions. Ignoring these feelings will only serve to increase stress and aggravate the situation as time goes on.

Be Patient and Adaptable

After making a list of concerns and goals you may start to have a picture in your mind of how things will proceed. However, there are always uncontrollable outside factors that can affect your plan, and resisting them often just makes it worse.

Take Charge

While patience is essential it is also recommended to take control of your situation to have as much influence as possible on the outcome.

Qualified Assistance

Home care services are always available from a professional home care agency like Retire-At-Home to help ease the burden, manage pain, and improve the quality of daily life for all involved.

Contact us today for a Free Home Care Assessment to discuss how our services in the North Shore – North Vancouver, and West Vancouver can help provide support to you or someone you care about.