Major life decisions have always been a challenging topic for anyone, especially if it’s a conversation about end of life care of a loved one. It may not be easy, but talking about hospice and palliative care in advance can help the whole family make an informed decision without hassle and stress. But the big question here is this: how can you talk to someone about hospice care?
As with any life-changing decision, it’s crucial to have an open, calm, and honest discussion about it. It’s also essential to gather facts first and learn how hospice care can benefit a loved one.
Read on below as we give tips on how to have a productive conversation with a loved one about hospice care.
When Should You Start the Conversation?
According to studies, starting hospice care early on allows patients to reap its full benefits, thus improving one’s quality of life. So ideally, talk of any end-of-life care plans should start when your loved one is still healthy and able to make decisions for themselves.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. More often than not, hospice care will only be brought up when sudden medical crises happen. Some examples of the circumstances that may trigger the conversation include:
- When the patient or loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness or only has six months or less to live.
- When a loved one’s health steadily deteriorates or worsens.
- When a loved one’s body does not respond to medical treatments anymore.
- When there are repeated hospitalizations and ER visits.
- When a loved one’s doctor recommends hospice care.
- When a loved one or patient specifically requests hospice care.
Tips to Start a Conversation
Before starting the conversation, make it a point to learn everything you can about hospice care and understand why it’s the best option for your loved one. You can get the help of a healthcare professional or visit our website to understand hospice care better.
When you’re ready to broach the topic, here are some tips on keeping the conversation positive and peaceful.
Choose the Right Time and Place
End-of-life care is a sensitive and delicate topic. So, it would be best to discuss it privately with your loved one. You can include key family members close to your loved one whose opinion they value.
Furthermore, it’s essential to bring up the topic during a patient or loved one’s relaxed time. There should be no distractions and stress triggers nearby. Lastly, choose your words carefully and talk to them with empathy and compassion.
Make Your Intentions Clear
There’s really no easy way to go about discussing hospice but to be fully honest with your loved one. Make your intentions clear by saying that your number one priority is their health and well-being. Let them know that they are important to you, which is why you want to go over every possible option that can help improve and lengthen their life.
Focus the Conversation on Your Loved One’s Needs
Talk about your loved one’s medical condition based on their doctor’s recent findings. If possible, it’s better to let their doctor explain their disease, how it will progress, and why hospice is the best care option.
Discuss how hospice care can address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of your loved one. Make sure to highlight its benefits, such as:
- 24/7 supervision and on-call support from the hospice team
- Regular visitations from nurses and hospice aides
- Assistance with daily activities and basic medical needs (e.g., medication administration)
- Healthy meals with dietary counseling
- Companionship and support with daily activities, like running important errands
- Physical, occupational, and speech therapies
- Counseling services for patients and loved ones
- Religious services for the patient and family members
Furthermore, it’s also vital to discuss that there are different ways hospice care can be given. For example, support may be provided daily, 24/7, or on an “as needed” basis depending on the client’s references.
So, reassure your loved ones that it’s entirely up to them to decide what kind of support and program they prefer.
Discuss Hospice Myths and Facts
For many people, the word “hospice” automatically means “giving up” or “a place where death is imminent.” But these things are nowhere near the truth.
Hospice care is actually a type of care option given to patients with life-limiting conditions or terminal illnesses. It aims to provide support and comfort by relieving symptoms and focusing on the patient’s mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness.
Help your loved one understand the true meaning of hospice by dispelling the myths and only sticking to facts. Learn more about the common hospice myths and the facts behind them on our page.
Listen With Empathy
After voicing your concerns and sharing your opinions, it’s time for you to listen and let your loved one do the talking. Ask them about their concerns, health care plans, and end-of-life wishes. Listen with empathy and keep an open mind about their objections regarding hospice care.
Acknowledge your loved one’s fears and reservations about hospice. Let them know that their feelings are valid, and you understand each one of them. Then, try your best to develop a solution or plan to accommodate your loved one’s wishes.
It’s normal to be met with resistance or, sometimes, anger. When that happens, remember to keep your cool and don’t push the idea onto them. Let them think on the idea, then talk to them again when the right opportunity comes.
Explore Hospice Care Options with your Loved One
Hospice care provides different programs and services depending on the patient’s needs, health condition, and personal preferences. There are many options, so make sure to explore each one with your loved one.
For example, if your loved one wants to receive hospice care at home, then you can arrange for at-home hospice care. Granting their wishes (if possible) allows them to receive the support they need, all the while being comfortable and happy.
We’re Here To Help
Conversations about hospice care are not always easy, but they’re an important step in getting your loved one the care they need. If you think a loved one can benefit from our hospice and palliative services, then we can gladly discuss it with you.
Our experts at Cardinal Hospice can help you learn more about the high-quality end-of-life care your loved one will receive through hospice services. We can also talk about your loved one’s condition and the steps we will take to provide the support that they deserve.
When the time is right, you can fill out our patient referral form or contact us at (989) 308-4819. Our care team can give you helpful information on how to talk to someone about hospice care.