Care of the Terminally Ill (10 results)

A terminally ill child is a child who has no expectation of cure from his or her disease or illness, but who requires as much care and comfort as can be provided. Knowing what a dying child understands about his or her condition, as well as fears, feelings, emotions, and physical changes that occur, may help family manage the final process better. The emotional, physical, and spiritual impact a dying child has on a family and community cannot be measured. Understanding how children at different ages and developmental levels view death and dying may help to alleviate many of the fears and uncertainties associated with this process.

It is a natural response for parents, relatives, and friends to protect a dying child from the impact of a diagnosis. What and how much to tell a child depends on many variables, including culture and ethnic background, the family structure and available support, and the individual characteristics of the child and family. However, children at an amazingly young age are aware of the seriousness of their condition by the emotions and actions of those around them. Anxiety and fear can be caused by a child's perception that he or she is being denied the truth about a situation. Children detect inconsistency in information and avoidance of questions they ask. Often a child's imagination can create a much worse scenario than what may already be occurring. Terminally ill children, now more than ever, need love, support, and honesty from their family and friends.

The purpose of this module is to help family, friends, health care providers, and the terminally ill child work through the fear and anxiety associated with death and dying by providing information about this process and what to expect.

  • A Child's Concept of Death

    For infants and toddlers, death has very little meaning. School-aged children begin to understand death as permanent, universal, and inevitable. A predominant theme in adolescence is a feeling of immortality or being exempt from death.
  • Discussing Death with Children

    The ultimate goal in discussing death with a dying child is to optimize his or her comfort and alleviate any fears. If the child is not ready to discuss death, the most helpful step parents can take is to wait until he or she is ready.
  • Anticipatory Grief

    Anticipatory grief is similar to the normal process of mourning, but it occurs before the actual death.
  • Physical Needs of the Dying Child

    A terminally ill child has many of the same needs as any seriously ill child, including a routine for sleep and rest, and for pain management.
  • Psychosocial Needs of the Dying Child

    The child with a terminal illness has the same need for love, emotional support, and normal activities as any person facing death.
  • Supportive / Palliative Care

    Supportive, or palliative, care is care aimed at comfort of the child versus cure and treatment.
  • Hospice

    The goal of hospice care is to provide the terminally ill child peace, comfort, and dignity.
  • For Parents: Important Decisions to Be Made in the Dying Process

    Detailed information on important decisions to be made when a child is dying, including the right to refuse treatment, to die at home versus the hospital, advanced directives, do not resuscitate, autopsy, organ donation, palliative hospice care, and funeral arrangements.
  • The Dying Process

    Understanding the physical and mental changes the body goes through as death occurs, may help alleviate some fears and misconceptions about death.
  • Grief and Bereavement

    The process of grieving is often long and painful for parents, siblings, relatives, friends, peers, teachers, neighbors, and anyone that understands the loss of a child.