Pittsburgh / Allison Park Senior Care Blog

How to Support A Terminally Ill Senior

By Amy Felman

When you learn that a family member has a terminal illness, you may be uncertain of how to react and what you can do to support them. It’s hard to know what to say and what actions might be helpful without being meddlesome. If you’re at a loss for what to do or say, here are some tips that you may find useful.

Focus on Your Relationship

One of the things you might be worried about is how your relationship with the senior might change because of the diagnosis. It may not change at all, but if you’re worried, it can help to focus on the strengths of your relationship and build from there. You may find that your relationship will grow even closer than before. Keep in mind that the person hasn’t changed. They still like and dislike the same things. They may wish to be treated as normally as possible without undue focus on the disease, so encourage them to stay involved in daily life and in spending time with friends and family.

Learn About Available Benefits

You can help a terminally ill older adult by educating yourself on benefits that may be available to them. These may include health insurance benefits, VA benefits, and local assistance. When family caregivers manage the paperwork and care aspects, the senior has more time to spend doing things they enjoy and to be with family.

Be a Listening Ear

Your aging family member may not want to talk about their illness or impending death at all. However, knowing that they can talk to you if they want to can help. Even if they don’t want to talk, just having someone near can be comforting.

Share Memories

Encouraging the older adult to talk about their lives can help them to see that their life was important and reassure them that they will not be forgotten. It’s also the last chance you’ll get to collect family stories. Ask the person questions about their younger years, such as how they met their spouse, what made them get into the line of work they did, or what they were like when they were a child.

Consider Home Care

Home care can allow a terminally ill senior to spend the time they have left enjoying life. Home care can also allow family members to spend time together without focusing on aspects of care. Home care providers can assist with all sorts of things, including keeping the house tidy, preparing meals, and assisting with personal care, like dressing and bathing.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring home care in Mars, PA, please call the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (412) 364-4663.