The most common comment that Salus Homecare of Riverside County hears from families is –
“I wish I had experienced hospice care earlier in this disease process.”
If your loved one is facing a terminal illness, don’t wait to begin important conversations about their comfort and care. Expect to take on one of the most challenging conversations you will ever have, but know that having this vital discussion ultimately provides comfort, dignity, and a higher quality of life for your family and your loved one during a difficult time.
We are here to help. Here are a few tips for starting conversations about hospice care.
Understanding Hospice Care
Before approaching your loved one, it’s crucial to have a good understanding about this level of end of life care. Hospice care focuses on improving the quality of life for individuals with terminal illnesses. It provides comfort, pain management, and emotional support in the final stages of life, allowing individuals to spend their remaining time in the comfort of their homes or in a hospice facility.
To qualify, an individual must have a doctor’s diagnosis and referral stating that their life expectancy is six months or less if the disease follows its expected course. A person can remain on hospice care for longer than six months as long as the doctor continues to certify it as necessary and beneficial.
Preparing Yourself for Hospice Conversations
Conversations about hospice are often emotionally draining, so take some time to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.
- Education: Learn about hospice care, the services it offers, and the benefits it provides. Review the pros and cons of in home hospice care and hospice care in a facility. Having knowledge increases your level of confidence in explaining the service to your loved one.
- Choose the Right Time and Place: Find a quiet, comfortable setting without distractions. Timing is crucial; ensure you have ample time to discuss the topic without feeling rushed.
- Reflect on Your Feelings: Understand your own emotions and fears about the situation. Acknowledge your feelings and how they impact your ability to communicate effectively.
Starting the End of Life Care Conversation
Approaching the subject of hospice care requires sensitivity and empathy. Here’s how to start the conversation:
- Express Your Love and Concern: Begin by telling your loved one how much you value them and how concerned you are for their well-being. Reinforce your commitment to their happiness, safety and comfort throughout their journey.
- Use “I” Statements: Share your feelings using “I” statements to avoid placing blame or causing undue pressure. For example, try, “I worry about your comfort and quality of life” as opposed to “You need hospice care.”
- Show openness to your loved one’s thoughts and feelings: Open-ended questions like, “How are you feeling about your health right now?” or “What does your pain level feel like?” invites them to share their concerns.
- Provide Information: Gently introduce the concept of hospice care, explaining its benefits and how it improves their quality of life during this challenging time.
- Get Help: Sometimes it is helpful to have another perspective at the table. If your loved one is open to it, invite a hospice care professional to join you during these important conversations to answer questions, provide information on options or simply help to direct the pace of the conversation.
Active listening is an important skill that involves listening with intention and empathy. When you actively listen, the other person feels heard, and they understand that the conversation is important to you; they are important to you. This skill is crucial during the hospice care conversation.
- Validate Their Feelings: Acknowledge your loved one’s true emotions, such as fear, anxiety or sadness. Validate that feelings are normal and important to express.
- Avoid Interrupting: Allow them to speak without interruption. Sometimes, thoughtful moments of silence encourage them to share more.
- Ask for Their Input and Preferences: Make it clear that their wishes are of utmost importance to you. Your goal is to empower your loved one to make thoughtful decisions about hospice care, so understanding their wishes and goals is essential.
Respecting Their Care Decision
This one is difficult but IMPORTANT.
Ultimately, the decision about hospice care is your loved one’s to make. Regardless of their choice, respect it and continue to provide the support, guidance, information and care they need. There may come a time when broaching the conversation again makes sense, so keep an open mind and just know that your love and support means everything.
Starting the hospice conversation with a loved one is undoubtedly difficult, but it’s a conversation about a valuable service that brings comfort, dignity, and peace during their final stages of life. Express love, empathy, and a sense of understanding. Prepare to listen and respect their choices.
Salus Homecare of Riverside County is here to help in anyway possible. Our team of hospice care professionals is available to answer questions, provide information and help guide your loved one throughout the hospice care journey. Our services are 5-star rated by families, patients and medical professionals.
Contact Salus Homecare of Riverside County anytime, and let us know how we can help.