Talking with your loved one about Hospice

Talking about hospice care does not mean giving up hope. Many people find it comforting to know there is another source of help and support. Discussing hospice gives your loved one information about all the options available.

Ideally, the conversation happens when everyone is healthy and focuses on planning ahead with regard to future healthcare wishes and desired burial and funeral desires. In these instances, conversations may be short and occur over a period of time. Often they result in the whole family knowing that the most vital issues have been discussed and that everyone has the information needed to make informed decisions.

When this discussion is not ongoing, hospice should be considered as soon as it appears that medical options may soon be exhausted and/or the loved one or family expresses a desire to stop seeking a cure.

The sooner the key family members and decision makers can hold a meeting—whether in person, on the phone or via the Internet—the more effective hospice can be. Optimally, the meeting will have some structure and everyone will have been educated about hospice—its purpose, benefits, etc.—beforehand.

Starting the Conversation

  • Choose a quiet, comfortable place. Turn off your cell phone, the television and other distractions.
  • Sit at eye level with your loved one. Lean forward to express concern, look him/ her in the eye.
  • Choose your first words carefully; they are remembered best. Speak clearly, slowly and with expression, ie: “I’d like to spend some time talking to you about your illness.”
    Reflect on a recent circumstance. “That last stay in the hospital seemed hard on you, and I think there is a way to avoid it in the future.”
  • Prompt with a question, such as, “How are you feeling about where you are with your illness?” If your loved one talks about his or her condition, about giving up, being tired of trips to the hospital, or just wanting to be comfortable, this is a cue to explore hospice as an option.
  • Listen; silence is OK. It gives your loved one time to reflect, process and verbalize what concerns him/ her.
  • Use words of encouragement. “You have done so well dealing with your illness.”
  • Be empathetic. “I’m sure it’s hard to cope with your illness.” or “I know this can’t be easy for you.”
  • Be reassuring. “There may be a time when we need to focus on your comfort instead of a cure. I will be there for you, and we can have this discussion with your doctor together.”

When needed, we can help with support, information, and guidance about discussing hospice with a loved one. Contact us at 520-547-7000 for guidance.