How to Talk About Hospice? Discussing hospiceHow Hospice Care Works is never easy and your approach can make all the difference in the world. It’s not easy to know exactly what your loved ones are going through, but empathy is key to a healthy and fruitful dialogue.
Starting the Conversation
Before you begin there are some considerations. Everyone will deal with grief in their own way. Many feel fear, sadness, anger, and denial. Preparation will help you deal with many of these potential emotional outcomes. As strange as it sounds, role playing can serve you well here. It's best to practice how you will respond to each possible scenario such as sadness, anger, resentment, hostility, etc. with another person before you have the actual conversation with your loved one. You still might be surprised by their reaction, but a little practice definitely helps.
Before you start, consider the following:
- This might be multiple conversations.
- Bring other family members with you.
- Decisions don’t have to be made right away.
- Be emotionally prepared for disagreement.
What if they’re not ready?
This is more common than most people realize. Especially if there is no specific time frame given. If this happens, use language like “option for now” or “in the near future”. Remind your loved one that their comfort is in mind and that hospice isn’t about death. It’s about living life to its fullest and enjoying every moment that’s left. Part of what makes this possible is the comfort and care provided by hospice.
What if they refuse?
Help can often feel like a burden. Especially to the elderly. It’s only natural that we all take pride in our own autonomy and personal care. When this is the case, you should begin the conversation by letting your loved one know how proud you are of them for working so hard throughout their life for everything they have, and how grateful you are for the support they've given you over the years. Then you proceed by telling them that now it's your time to take care of them like they did for you. Tell your loved one that it hurts you to see them in pain or being uncomfortable and that you know of a group of people that can help them so they can continue to live at home.
What if they don’t want others living with them?
It’s not easy to let strangers into your home, especially when emotions are running high. It’s important to explain the big picture. Soon caregivers will feel like helpful friends. Remind them that you can't be with them 24/7 to keep up with their medications, help them get out of bed, or take care of any other needs they may have. It’s important they understand that your greatest concern is their well-being and in this case, maybe only a medical professional can provide.
Emotions might flare, but be patient, compassionate and understanding. Try to remember that someone probably will be having this conversation with you one day. The key to conversations about hospice start with empathy and hopefully leads - to trust.