Posted by: AJ Demers | July 29, 2019

Do’s and Don’ts When a Loved One Gets a Difficult Diagnosis Part 3: Respect Their Right to Choose

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Respect Their Right to Choose

A person with a difficult diagnosis or their family needs to have their ability to choose how to handle things respected. One of the choices that people often don’t respect, and do so without even thinking about it, is their right to choose how much they want others involved in any arrangements needed.

One example that comes to mind is a case of a man with cancer who had limited resources as far as insurance went. A friend of his, trying to be helpful, delegated inquiring about possible resources to several other friends, thinking this would help ease the burden.

It’s often said that “too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth”, and this saying rang true in his case. Some didn’t follow through on their delegated tasks, others didn’t have sufficient decision-making authority for their tasks, and others got their information mixed up. In the end, the patient and his immediate family were still responsible for setting things up, anyway.

In most cases, a person’s best “helper” is a patient navigator, discharge planner, or some other person with a medical/social services background who has the necessary information on the patient’s case. There’s a good reason these tasks are delegated to others.

Friends can and should look up things that might be helpful. However, the ultimate decision-making authority should rest with the person living with the illness or condition. A chronic and/or life-changing diagnosis likely comes with a feeling of losing control.

Helping your loved one keep a sense of control over their circumstances is one of the most helpful things you can do.


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