How to Talk to a Loved One About Hospice Care

| By Jodi Horton

It’s not an easy topic, but end-of-life care is a discussion worth having.

Understandably, we want to protect our loved ones, and by suggesting hospice care we might feel guilty. But we don’t want you to feel guilty, and we don’t want you or your loved one to feel hopeless.

Before you start the conversation, choose the right space. Make sure you’re both comfortable, and the space is a quiet one where you won’t be interrupted. Turn off possible interruptions: cell phones, television, radio.

Start the discussion by reviewing your loved one’s health condition. Have they been declining? Are there still available treatment options? Does your loved one want to try these treatment options? What kind of quality of life would they like to have?

Quality of life is a key point for hospice patients. When life has emphasized illness and treatment for so long, the individual usually wants to look at how life can be enjoyed.

Share with your loved one the benefits of hospice care. If he or she has been making frequent visits to the hospital and doctors’ offices, emphasize that the hospice team members make home visits. If you have been struggling to visit multiple doctors and trying to coordinate care among them, explain how hospice uses an interdisciplinary team structure that ensures all of your health care team will work together.

If your loved one has been struggling with uncomfortable symptoms such as pain or anxiety, discuss how one of the hospice’s strengths is symptom management. Your family member will have a dedicated nurse case manager who will help him or her manage symptoms to increase their comfort.

Perhaps you and your loved one have some fears about what the next months will bring. The hospice team can help you through this time, answering questions and explaining what you might be able to expect. Oftentimes, people talk about how the knowledge eased their fears and prepared them for this time of life.

Facing the last months of your life doesn’t mean you have to stop living it. Hospice can help you define your goals and support you as make the most of the end of your life.

If you know someone who would benefit from the support of hospice care, is in the last six months of life, and resides in Tucson or its surrounding areas, contact Casa de la Luz Hospice at (520) 544-9890.

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