Talking about hospice care does not mean there is nothing else to be done for your loved one. It does not mean there is no hope. It can actually be comforting to know there is another source of help and support. Discussing hospice gives your loved one information about all the options available.
When should I start the conversation?
A number of events can trigger a conversation about hospice care:
- Receiving a terminal diagnosis
- Experiencing repeated trips to the emergency room or hospitalizations
- Noticing a steady or significant decline in your loved one’s condition
- Feeling discouraged by, or tired from, treatments
- Hearing a medical professional suggest hospice care
How do I start the conversation?
- Choose a quiet, comfortable place. Turn off your cell phone, the television and other distractions.
- Sit at eye level with your loved one. Lean forward to express concern, look him/ her in the eye.
- Choose your first words carefully; they are remembered best. Speak clearly, slowly and with expression.“I’d like to spend some time talking to you about your illness.”
- Reflect on a recent circumstance. “That last stay in the hospital seemed hard on you, and I think there is a way to avoid it in the future.”
- Prompt with a question, such as, “How are you feeling about where you are with your illness?” If your loved one talks about his or her condition, about giving up, being tired of trips to the hospital, or just wanting to be comfortable, this is a cue to explore hospice as an option.
- Listen; silence is OK. It gives your loved one time to reflect, process and verbalize what concerns him/ her.
- Use words of encouragement. “You have done so well dealing with your illness.”
- Be empathetic. “I’m sure it’s hard to cope with your illness.” or “I know this can’t be easy for you.”
- Be reassuring. “There may be a time when we need to focus on your comfort instead of a cure. I will be there for you, and we can have this discussion with your doctor together.”
As a caregiver, your loved one trusts you. Your endorsement of hospice care will go a long way in giving him or her the confidence to learn more.
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