Talking To Your Doctor About Hospice
If you have a loved one who is showing noticeable health declines or significant ongoing pain, and curative treatment is no longer an option, it might be time to ask your doctor about hospice.
Steps for a Successful Conversation About Hospice:
Introduce the Idea of Hospice Care
Not sure how to talk about hospice? To get the conversation started, tell your loved one you’re concerned about their declining health and think they would benefit from additional support. Do they agree with you? Do they want to continue pursuing a cure—or is symptom management their goal? Answering these questions about hospice is an important first step.
Make a Hospice Discussion List
Writing down questions before you talk with your loved one’s doctor will keep the conversation on track, especially if emotions run high during difficult conversations around end-of-life care. Bring to the appointment a list of information like recent hospitalizations and noticeable health declines (e.g. increased falls, weight loss).
Be Honest and Expect It in Return
When talking to a loved one’s doctor about hospice, it’s important to be honest about their recent health declines and your concerns. Will your loved one’s symptoms or illness improve? Will continued curative treatment be challenging or ineffective? How is their quality of life? Do they agree hospice might be a good option?
Plan for a Successful Visit
A serious conversation about hospice will take more time than a standard visit. When making the appointment, tell the scheduler you want to have a conversation with the doctor about hospice. At the appointment, clarify your goals and don’t feel like you need to rush.
Bring Your Support System
Consider bringing another family member to talk about hospice for a second set of ears or to serve as the note-taker.
Be an Advocate
Depending on your loved one’s diagnosis and individual preferences, they may rely on you for decision-making support. Involve them in the conversation but be prepared to take the lead. Reassure your loved one that hospice can enhance quality of life and even extend length of life in some cases.
Debrief and Decide
Meet with your loved one and family to have the hospice discussion and agree on next steps. If you determine it’s time for hospice, anyone—including the patient or a family member—may contact a local hospice agency to request an assessment. You do not need a doctor’s referral.
Hospice helps people with advanced illness live life to the fullest in the time they have, with a focus on comfort and quality of life. Contact St. Croix Hospice 24/7 at 855-278-2764 for a complimentary consultation.