Arc Of Illness

Though every illness is different, most follow a similar “arc” with a beginning, middle and end.  Some illnesses last for days or weeks, others last years or even decades.  The Arc of Illness is designed as an organizing strategy for information, tools, and resources to help caregivers and friends of caregivers.

Arc of illness



The “beginning” represents different moments.  Sometimes an illness has a vague starting point, a slow decline, sometimes related to “normal aging”, a time that many families prefer to ignore or avoid discussing. For others, “beginning” is a very specific medical event or diagnosis – a sudden stroke or cancer diagnosis.  The Beginning Resources offer links to help family caregivers and their friends during this period.



The “middle” represents the period of an illness when the illness itself creates a “new normal” for the family. Focus points here are often on clarity of goals of care and ensuring continuity of care. The Middle Resources offer additional ways to organize friends and community to assist family caregivers as well as links to information from government and private organizations designed to help families navigate the illness journey.  f life. It also has resources to help understand end 



The “end” of the arc of illness can have a positive outcome – a return to good health.  This of course is what families hope for. However, the resources under this heading are for when an illness does not have a good outcome. The End Resources include information to help families plan, communicate, coordinate, and prioritize near the end of life. It also has resources to help understand end of life wishes and advance directives.