Every year, approximately 1.4 million people receive palliative care. Of this group, about 66 percent received care where they lived rather than at a separate facility.
Are your parents dealing with chronic illnesses? Do they seem to be in denial about the severity of their condition or the amount of assistance they need?
If this is the case, you might need to talk to your parents about in-home palliative care. This can be a difficult conversation, for sure. Keeping these guidelines in mind can help to make it easier.
Signs Your Parents Need In-Home Palliative Care
Your parents might be in denial about their condition, but you might be in denial as well. If you’re not sure whether or not your parents need in-home palliative are, consider whether or not you’ve noticed the following warning signs:
- They have trouble with daily tasks, such as eating, using the bathroom, or performing basic acts of self-care
- Their symptoms seem to be getting worse
- They have to go to the hospital often and come home exhausted and drained by the experience
- They seem worn out and want to sleep all the time
- You feel worn out and are having a hard time keeping up with all of their needs
This last point is especially important. Your feelings matter in all of this. If you’re exhausted or dealing with caregiver burnout, that’s a warning sign that palliative care might be the best solution for you and your parents.
How to Talk to Elderly Parents About Palliative Care
If you’ve determined that palliative care is what your parents need, the next step is to have a talk with them about it. This is a tricky conversation, but here are some tips you can keep in mind as you begin to help your parents understand your concerns:
Time the Conversation Right
If you’ve been caring for elderly parents for a while, you probably know that there are times of day when they’re more lucid than others. When you’re getting ready to have a big conversation like this with them, it helps to plan it for the time of day when they’re most likely to think clearly and be open to your point of view.
In addition to choosing the right time of day, keep in mind that the earlier you can have this talk, the better. This gives them more time to make a decision and figure out what they want or are willing to compromise on moving forward.
Focus on the Positive
During your talk, try to focus more on the positive than the negative. Talk about the advantages that come with using in-home palliative care. Emphasize how much more comfortable your parents will be and how this will save them from having to go back and forth to the hospital whenever something goes wrong.
Remember, talk up the merits of palliative care instead of treating it as a great burden or a sign that the end is near. If you do this, you’ll have an easier time convincing your parents that it’s a good option.
Make It About You
In some cases, your parents might be stubborn about doing something just because it will benefit them. If you talk about how palliative care will benefit you, though, that might change their minds.
If your parents understand that you’re feeling burned out or that you’re unable to provide all the care they need, they might soften their stance. Be honest about your feelings and your needs during the conversation to see if they become more willing to give an alternative form of care a try.
Address Their Fears
It’s normal that your parents will have fears about palliative care and what it means with regard to the seriousness of their condition. Do your best to empathize with your parents and acknowledge their fears. There’s no need to dwell on them (your goal is to focus on the positive, after all), but you should also make sure your parents feel seen and heard.
It’s easy for those who are ill to feel invisible, or as though everyone else is calling the shots. If you address where they’re coming from, they might be more inclined to go along with what’s best for them.
Bring in Backup
In some cases, parents have a hard time taking advice from their children. In these instances, bringing in some backup can make a big difference. If you have a professional from a palliative care agency come and talk to them, for example, they might be more willing to hear what they have to say.
A professional might be able to get through to them in a way that you and your siblings or other family members cannot. This can be frustrating, of course, but it’s worth considering, especially if other tactics aren’t working.
Consider a Trial Run
Finally, see if you can get your parents to agree to a trial run of hospice care at home. Let them know that this is something you just want to try to see if they like it. Be clear, too, that if they don’t like receiving extra care, they can go back to the way things were before.
A trial run can be a good compromise. It allows your parents to get some extra care, but it also helps them ease into a new way of doing things without feeling overwhelmed or as though you’re giving up on them and their situation.
Talk to Your Parents Today
Talking to the elderly, especially when they’re your parents, about in-home palliative care is tough. As you can see, though, there are some strategies you can use to make the conversation a little less difficult.
Follow the instruction outlined above when you sit down for a talk with your parents. They’ll help you ease into the conversation and increase your chances of getting the outcome for which you’re hoping.
If you need additional guidance, or if you want to learn more about what in-home palliative care entails, we can help at Cardinal Hospice. Contact us today for more information on our services.