Terminal Illness

by Dr Elizabeth Toy, Dr Catherine O’Neill and Dr Sarah Jackson, Redemptorist, 53pp, £5

Written by three West Country professionals, this booklet deals with terminal illness, first giving a clear definition of what it is. Strictly speaking, it is an illness that cannot be cured and that may shorten life expectancy. But, more commonly, it is referred to as “a life-limiting condition”. Apart from cancer, it may include chronic diseases affecting major organs such as heart, lungs, kidney or brain.

Whatever the situation, receiving a diagnosis of such a condition can be overwhelming, devastating and very frightening. For some it may be unexpected, for others it may be a relief to know the truth.

This booklet provides simple practical guidelines to enable individuals involved to hope and cope with greater serenity. It includes ongoing care at various levels, allaying fear and distress when the prospect of palliative or end of life care comes onto the horizon. It helpfully describes the two kinds of lasting power of attorney (LPA). The first covers property and financial affairs. The second, more importantly, allows the nominated attorney to make decisions about health and welfare for the person concerned.

The booklet speaks about nutrition and hydration at the end of life, and gives simple indications of what the actual dying process will be like. Various personal stories are sprinkled throughout the publication. And it speaks of individuals as “spiritual beings on a human journey”, describing grief as “the price for love”.

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