How to Talk to Family and Friends About Brain Conditions

Tips for Talking Treatment with Your Family

Your Treatment

Outline the treatments available to you. If you have already decided on a specific course of treatment, let your family members know. Otherwise, ask for their input, especially if they will be able to help you get through the treatment. Be honest and realistic about how effective treatment is likely to be and how long it will be before you know whether it is working. In some cases, treatment and therapy can take more than a year before significant results are apparent.

Remember, most people want to help. But you know your relatives best: Some people might just want to be informed, and others might want to be more actively included, with specific tasks they can do to help you.

Their Questions

Family members might have some questions you did not think of. If you don't know the answers, you can ask your doctor or nurse or you can do some research online. If they have a lot of questions, you might want to invite them to your next appointment or encourage them to join a support group so they can get the answers firsthand.

Talking to Children

Although you might want to protect your children or grandchildren from unpleasant news or from worrying about you, they probably will know something is going on, even if they are not told. Children sometimes make things worse with their imagination, so it is best to give them age-appropriate information about your diagnosis and your plans. They may also be worried about how this will affect the things that matter to them, like holiday celebrations at your house, a fishing trip or playing on their favorite sports team. Involving other family members can help ensure that children can continue to enjoy their activities.

Long-Term Planning

There are some issues that people should discuss with their families regardless of their diagnosis, prognosis or treatment. Let your family know what your medical wishes are should you be unable to make those decisions for yourself. Create a living will. And let your family know how you feel about organ donation and what steps should be taken to save or preserve your life if you are not conscious or able to make those decisions yourself.

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