Talking to Your Loved Ones About Hospice
PublishedMay 16, 2023
If you have a loved one who is showing noticeable health declines or significant ongoing pain, and curative treatment may no longer be an option, it might be time to have a conversation about hospice.
Signs that your loved one could benefit from hospice:
- Increased hospitalizations or ER visits
- Progressive weight loss
- Additional assistance with activities of daily living, e.g. personal care
Tips for Having a Conversation About Hospice With Your Loved Ones
Some tips to get the conversation started include:
- Educate yourself first on the topic of hospice
- Choose a time that you will be able to quietly discuss the topic with your loved one, free of distractions
- Tell your loved one your concerns regarding declining health
- Take your time and do not rush the conversation
- Be patient if they do not understand right away or get upset
- Suggest creating an Advanced Care Plan
Steps for a Successful Conversation About Hospice:
Introduce the Idea of Hospice Care
To start the conversation with your loved one, explain your concerns regarding declining health and how additional support would be beneficial. 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.
Some questions to help start the conversation could be:
- What do you value most in life?
- How do cultural, spiritual or personal beliefs influence your health care end-of-life decisions?
- Have you ever thought about your end-of-life wishes?
Be Honest and Expect It In Return
When talking to a loved one about hospice, it’s important to be honest about recent health declines and your concerns. Will symptoms or illness improve? Will continued curative treatment be challenging or ineffective? How is the quality of life? Do they agree hospice might be a good option?
Explain the Benefits of Hospice
Explain to your loved ones the benefits of hospice and how it can improve the end-of-life journey.
- The focus shifts from pursuing a cure to enhancing quality of life
- A team of physicians, nurses and hospice aides manage and provide clinical care.
- On-call nursing support is available 24/7.
- hospice medical supplies including medication and equipment will be covered.
- Spiritual and social support is provided by chaplains and social workers.
Plan for a Hospice Evaluation
A patient must be evaluated for hospice eligibility prior to establishing a hospice care plan. Our RN Case Manager will meet with you and your loved one for a virtual or in-person assessment. They’ll gather information such as recent health declines and concerning symptoms as well as share information with you about the benefits of hospice.
Be an Advocate
Your loved ones may seek additional decision-making support depending on the diagnosis and individual preferences. Involve them in the conversation but be prepared to take the lead, if appropriate.
Debrief and Decide
Meet with your loved ones and other family to have the hospice discussion and agree on next steps. If you determine it’s time for hospice, anyone—including the patient, a family member or friend may contact a local hospice agency to request a complimentary 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.