Who can help you plan ahead if you live in Scotland?
Remember that there are healthcare and other professionals who can help you to plan ahead, as well as your family and friends.
Planning ahead for our healthcare isn’t something we usually think about. If we’re well, we don’t expect to become seriously ill. We may assume that we’ll always be able to make decisions for ourselves even when we’re unwell, but this isn’t always the case.
For many people with cancer or other illnesses, planning ahead may feel particularly difficult. You may already be struggling to cope with fears and uncertainties about the future. It’s important that you don’t feel alone when planning ahead.
There are many professionals who can help you plan ahead. You can ask your GP, district nurse, specialist nurse, social worker or your hospital doctors who is the best person to speak to about planning ahead. If you’re thinking about making a will or creating a Power of Attorney, you should contact a solicitor. Some people may be able to get some help towards legal fees, depending on their circumstances. A solicitor can advise you on this.
It’s fine to talk about this with one of these professionals. However, it might feel difficult to know how to begin.
You may want to start the conversation with something like this:
‘I’ve been thinking about making plans for my future care, just in case something happens to me and I can’t make decisions for myself. I wonder whether you could help me, or point me in the direction of someone who could help me explore what options I have and what I need to do?’
Involving people who are close to you, such as your family and friends, can be really helpful. They may be able to help you explore some of the issues so that you can plan ahead better. It will also help them to know what your wishes are so they can help make sure they are carried out.
Now that we have discussed the final weeks we can enjoy the time left, however long it may be.
If your plans involve your family or friends taking on more responsibility for your care, it’s important to discuss this with them. For example, you may want to die at home and need them to look after you. You can ask them whether they think this extra responsibility will be too much for them. If it is, ask your health and social care team for advice. They can tell you more about the help that might be available to support them, and about other care options.
Sometimes family and friends don’t want to talk about planning ahead. They may appear to ignore the fact that you want to think about the future, perhaps by playing down your anxieties and changing the subject. If this upsets or hurts you, try explaining to them why it is important for you to plan ahead. You could ask them to read the information in this section so that you can talk about planning ahead together when you feel ready. Perhaps start by reassuring them that this is something you want to do and it will help if you could talk to them about it.
You could try saying something like this:
‘I know it’s difficult to talk about this, but I’d really like to chat through how I would like to be cared for if my health was to suddenly get worse.’
Coping with your emotionsBack to top
Planning ahead can stir up emotions, particularly if you’re already coping with an illness. These feelings can include sadness, anxiety and fear. These are normal reactions that people often have when coping with uncertainty about their future. Even if you’re well, thinking about how you would like to be cared for if you were to become seriously ill can cause all sorts of feelings.
There are many people who can help you cope with your emotions. Talking to a close family member or trusted friend can help. Health and social care professionals can also give you support - this includes your GP, community nurse, nurse specialist, social worker or hospital doctor. You may also find it helpful to join a support group or chat things through with a helpful organisation.
If you feel you need a bit more support, you can ask your GP, nurse specialist, social worker or hospital doctor about finding a counsellor. Counsellors can be very helpful, particularly if you don’t feel able to discuss your feelings and emotions with people close to you.
Although planning ahead can be hard, it can help relieve anxiety and fear by giving you a greater sense of control over your life and your future.
Amanda talks about her experiences of coping with advanced cancer.
Our Online Community is open 24 hours a day to help you find support. You can share your experiences with people who know what you're going through. Join us at community.macmillan.org.uk