Life-limiting illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and dementia can be challenging to cope with, both for the individual who is suffering from the illness and for their loved ones. Often, individuals with life-limiting illnesses must learn to live with many restrictions and limitations. However, it is possible to live independently despite a life-limiting illness.
Independence allows you to maintain some control over your life and can help you feel more normal and stay on your routine in the midst of a very difficult time. Additionally, independence can help reduce stress for both you and your loved ones. But then, life-limiting illnesses can make it challenging to maintain your independence.
Challenges of Living Independently With a Life-limiting Illness
Many challenges come with living independently with a life-limiting illness. First and foremost, you may have difficulty physically taking care of yourself. Activities of daily living may become more difficult or impossible to do independently.
Additionally, you may no longer be able to work or earn a living. This can lead to financial instability and insecurity.
Furthermore, your social life may suffer as a result of your illness. You may find it challenging to participate in activities that you once enjoyed or to maintain relationships with friends and family members. Finally, you may also struggle with emotional difficulties like depression, anxiety, and isolation.
Tips for Living Independently With a Life-Limiting Illness
There are ways to live independently even if you have a life-limiting illness. These tips can help:
Get Organized and Make a Plan
The first step is to get organized and make a plan. First, you will need to realistically assess your needs and what your future needs will be. If your illness is progressive, you will need to plan for your needs to change over time.
Talk to your healthcare team and loved ones about what you need to live independently. If they recommend that you get help, consider the different healthcare options at home. This is especially critical if you plan on continuously living on your own and have no loved one to take care of your needs.
You will also need to take into account your financial situation. Make a budget and figure out what you can afford. If you can no longer work, look into disability benefits or other forms of assistance.
Find a Place to Live That Meets Your Needs
If you have a life-limiting illness, it is crucial to find a living space that meets your needs. This may mean finding an accessible apartment or home or moving into a long-term care facility. If you plan on staying at home, then it only makes sense that you make your house as livable as possible.
Make sure that your home is safe and accessible. If you have difficulty moving around, consider installing ramps or grab bars. You should also make sure that all of your appliances are working properly and that you have easy access to the things you need daily.
Participate in Activities That You Enjoy
Just because you have a life-limiting illness does not mean that you have to give up the activities that you enjoy. Remember that your happiness also matters. There are many adaptive programs available that can help you participate in the activities you love.
For one, you can participate in modified versions of activities. For example, if you love to play tennis, you can participate in wheelchair tennis. If you enjoy swimming, there are also options for adaptive swimming.
Additionally, there are many social and recreational programs specifically designed for individuals with disabilities. These programs can help you meet new friends and participate in activities together.
Build a Support System
Finally, it is crucial to create a support system for yourself. Aside from your family, friends, and other loved ones, consider joining a support group for individuals with the same condition. These groups can provide you with emotional support and practical advice.
Don’t forget about seeking the help of the pros through counseling or therapy. This is especially true if you struggle mentally and emotionally with your diagnosis.
You don’t have to go through this journey alone. Many people care about you and want to help. All you need to do is reach out and ask for support.
While a life-limiting illness can make it difficult to live independently, it is still possible to do so with the right planning and support. Get organized, make a plan, and find a place to live that meets your needs. Also, don’t forget to participate in activities that you enjoy and build a supportive network of family and friends. You can still live a happy and fulfilling life despite your diagnosis with enough preparation.