Some patients with cancer are single parents. Custody and care of the children can be a significant problem for these patients and need to be planned for. Willis et al used a questionnaire to help guide the process. The authors are from the University of Missouri.


NOTE: The same issues apply to any single parent with a terminal illness.


Topics for the questionnaire:

(1) name, age and gender of the dependent(s)

(2) current caregivers

(3) relationship of current caregivers to the single parent

(4) extent of custody planning

(5) status of custody arrangements

(6) attitude of the patient about the custody plans

(7) timing of discussions relative to treatment

(8) inclusion of the dependent(s) in the process

(9) legal status of custody plans

(10) problems associated with custody

(11) ways to assist the patient in the custody planning process


Factors affecting the custody planning process:

(1) ages of the dependents and their ability to understand or participate in the various issues involved

(2) availability of a family member who can assume custody

(3) conflicts in the family, especially when there has been a divorce

(4) ability to keep the family unit intact as much as possible

(5) economic issues

(6) problems associated with the person assuming custody

(7) special problems with the dependents such as disabilities

(8) ability of the patient to make decisions (which may be affected by medications, illness and psychiatric issues)


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