Developing a Plan: Setting the Goals

Once you have some basic facts, consider where you are headed in terms of your loved-one’s illness.

If the facts suggest that full recovery is possible.

Maybe the facts suggest that while things are tough now, a full recovery is possible. If so, great! If your loved one is expected to recover fully from the illness, s/he will likely need help and support immediately after discharge and so will you as you will be caring for your loved one. Plan ahead while your loved one is still hospitalized. Contact friends and family members and explain your situation and ask for help. If a rehabilitation unit or nursing home stay is recommended after discharge from the hospital (example in a patient who has recovered from a stroke but is still too weak to go home from the hospital), discuss this with the doctor. Once you know the plan and have identified a nursing home or rehab unit in a convenient location, you are more likely to have a smooth transition from the hospital after discharge.

What if the facts suggest that full recovery is unlikely?

Sad, though this might be, what possibilities exist to make the best of things? Patients and families sometimes become overwhelmed by the many decisions that must be made. They may also have strong feelings about what they believe to be best for your loved-one. Sometimes, arguments break out about specific decisions that must be made. Because strong emotions often come up, it is easy to get into arguments without taking the time to step back and consider a more basic question – not so much, "what should we do", but "where are we trying to get to?"

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