Planning Healthcare Options for a Terminal Loved One

Finding out that your loved one has a terminal illness can be devastating, and you likely will have to scramble to figure out plans for their end-of-life care as well as your financial situation. Healthcare becomes quite expensive especially if you were relying on your loved one’s income to help pay for any of the monthly bills your family incurs.

Once the dust settles a bit and you have some time to think, it’s important to begin exploring your options for your loved one’s healthcare and who will be in control of it as your family member battles their illness. Learn about ways to plan healthcare options for your terminal loved one in a way that will leave them their dignity and help ease the transition into being a full-time patient.

Consider getting a viatical settlement.


Hopefully, you and your loved one already have a life insurance policy and have had the policy for quite some time. Life insurance is beneficial in the case of an unexpected event such as a car crash or surprise diagnosis. The money is there for you after your family member passes away so that you can try to financially adjust to life without them or pay for funeral expenses and outstanding medical debts.

Sometimes, though, the financial burden of treating a terminal illness can become too much to bear. Medical bills pile up, doctors begin to send notices of collection, and you feel unsure of what to do next. That life insurance may help once your spouse or other loved one has passed, but you should be able to enjoy the time you have left with them and not feel so stressed about their medical care costs. One way to try to ease that burden is by turning their life insurance policy into a viatical settlement.

A viatical settlement provider will, in a sense, purchase your existing life insurance policy from your insurance company and will settle with you for a lump cash sum. This sum will be less than your policy itself, but it could be a way to help alleviate the medical costs. Whether your loved one is one of many cancer patients or suffering from another illness like dementia, Parkinson’s, or advanced heart disease, this life settlement transaction may offer you the relief you need and the financial freedom from medical debt. Look at viaticals from American Life Fund as well as other viatical settlement brokers.

Not everyone can qualify for viaticals. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners says that anyone with a chronic illness and an existing life insurance policy may be able to qualify. While you will get less than your policy, in some cases, people have received up to 70% of the existing life insurance amount. The amount is determined by the life settlement company which takes into account things such as:

  • Type of disease
  • Stage of disease progression
  • The total value of the policy
  • Amount paid in insurance premiums

Once you accept the terms of the contract, you can get the lump sum immediately via a viatical settlement provider. Using your loved one’s death benefit now could make things much easier for you and your family.

Ensure they do not miss their routine medical treatments and appointments.


If your loved one is fighting a terminal disease, they likely do not have the mental resources to manage their schedule that is full of appointments to their primary care provider, their dentist, and other medical providers. It’s a lot for you to manage as well, so try to coordinate with other caregivers that can help you make sure your loved one gets to appointments when needed.

Certain types of treatment may weaken bone density and structure, and that can spread to their teeth, compromising oral health. They may need to visit their dentist more often. Those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other mentally debilitating diseases may even need to get treatment for periodontal disease. Periodontics involves treating patients for gum diseases like gingivitis or other more serious conditions. When this type of disease goes untreated, it can cause further complications for your loved one as their teeth could potentially loosen and fall out completely, which may require the placement of dental implants. Missing teeth can make it harder for them to eat and get the nutrients they need to help them in their battle against the disease.

They will also need to routinely visit with their primary care doctor or their physician assistant, who will examine them each time for signs of the disease’s progression and will record it in their medical history. It is important to establish a good, strong relationship with this doctor as they may be the first one to catch a symptom or sign of anything getting worse. If those symptoms are treated in a timely manner, then it could prove beneficial for your loved one’s prognosis.

Updated medical records will be important too if you need to seek out emergency care for your family member. With a life-threatening illness, it is likely you will need to visit other health care providers from time to time. Make sure that you have a chosen an emergency room nearby for the major health issues in case they need to perform surgery or another lifesaving procedure immediately. In the event that you do not need to visit the emergency room, consider finding an after hours medical treatment and urgent care facility. Places like that can treat minor injuries from slips and falls, sprains, and symptoms from colds, flu, or allergies. In some cases, they may even be able to treat broken bones. You’ll need to ensure that the urgent care treatment center is operating under standard procedure, as many right now are devoted to providing rapid testing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Make sure to find activities they can still do and enjoy.


One of the key aspects of a successful terminal illness care plan is to ensure that the patient has good mental healthcare as well. If they are left behind from important family activities or neglected because they are upstairs in bed, then it could be easier for your loved one to slip into a depression. A positive mental state can help them feel better and possibly improve their prognosis. Try to find activities that you can all do as a family while still keeping their health in mind. For example, organize a family game night or take them on a trip to a place they have always wanted to see. If you have that viatical settlement, you can use part of those funds to plan a family trip for some enjoyable memories that you will always share.

Find an end-of-life treatment center that can help them manage pain.


Once the illness has progressed beyond a certain point, it will likely be time to bring your loved one to an end-of-life treatment center. There, healthcare providers can help with pain management and work to alleviate other symptoms they may be experiencing. Late-stage cancer patients, for example, may have a lot of pain from the treatments they’ve undergone and could need more specialized care than what you can provide for them at home. A trained nurse practitioner will have extensive training and will know how to treat your loved one’s medical condition in a way that will contribute to them feeling peaceful as they make the last steps of their life’s journey in a hospice or other treatment center.

Julia Barber

Editorial Intern

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