It’s the conversation that many family caregivers tend to shy away from. It’s the hospice conversation, and it is a crucial discussion to undergo. A form of care that focuses on improving quality of life for those with the life expectancy of six months or less, hospice care can be a touchy subject. This is especially true when it comes to an ailing loved one.
Yet, although this discussion is far from comfortable, it is a necessary one. If you are uncertain of how to proceed, the following will act as a brief guideline for navigating the hospice conversation with a loved one.
Have the Discussion Early
When it comes to discussing hospice care, any nursing agency will tell us it is better to do it sooner rather than later. For many patients, the hospice discussion is put off until the last few weeks of life. This means that life decisions are being made in the moment, and, possibly, without the full lucidity of the person under care.
Having the discussion early means you have the time and space to fully delve into what your loved one wants. It’s an important conversation; thus, you honor the gravity of the situation by giving the discussion time to unfold.
Honor Your Loved One’s Journey
When discussing hospice, it’s important to honor and give voice to how hard this illness must be for your loved one. Let them know that you are there for them, and that this discussion is coming from a place of love.
Set aside time to let your loved one share their feelings, thoughts, and frustrations about the current moment. Listen to their grievances and honor each statement. This is a hard conversation, and you don’t need to “sugar coat” the current moment.
Share Your Thoughts
Once you and your loved one have reached common ground, you can begin the conversation in earnest. You can now talk about hospice care and what you think would work for them. Let your loved one know that this care is for them and that this will be a collaborative way to ensure quality of life.
Remember to use “I” statements to allow your perspective to be clear and avoid placing words, thoughts, and emotions in your loved one’s mouth.
Listen to Your Loved One
As with all fruitful discussions, this conversation can only be meaningful if you are receptive to your loved one’s wishes. Ask them what they want, if they have concerns, and if they have any questions. The goal is to give them a space to voice their desires and work through any trepidations.
Remember to practice active listening, meaning that you are listening to take in information and not listening solely to respond!