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4 Tips for Talking About Hospice Care With Your Parent

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Hospice care ― it can be one of the most difficult conversations families can have when determining end-of-life care for a loved one. Perhaps you are planning ahead for an aging parent, or maybe your parent is now at a stage that requires additional care.

First, keep in mind that making the decision for hospice care does not mean you are giving up on your parent. Hospice care allows you and your parent to get the additional support and medical care needed so you can focus on what matters most: quality time with your loved one. 

At Envision Hospice, our caring team of professionals comes alongside many families as they make decisions around when to pursue hospice care. We know that all family members may not always be in agreement. When disagreement happens, it’s important to take time to talk with your family members and especially your parent, whenever possible, so that you can work together to find the solution that best meets his or her needs.

Let’s consider some possible scenarios.

You’re not ready to consider hospice, but your parent is.

Sometimes the parent is the first to bring up hospice care out of a desire to minimize the burden on their children or family members. However, you may feel that you want to provide personal care within the family, or perhaps you have fears around having others assist with caring for your parent. Don’t dismiss their wishes right away. Listen to your parent. Ask why they want to consider hospice, and at what stage they feel ready to enter into hospice care. 

It can be difficult for a parent who has spent their life caring for their children to suddenly find the roles reversed. They may want to focus on enjoying the time you have left together while allowing trained staff to support their physical and health care needs. 

You want to continue to seek treatment for your parent, but they do not.

Doctor providing palliative care in hospice

Your parent may have been battling a long illness, such as cancer, and they may have come to terms with their illness while you may be hoping for continued treatment. Share your concerns and desires for their care, but again, take time to listen carefully to your parent’s wishes.

Instead of traditional aggressive treatment, hospice care provides comfort care, which is a specialized medical care focused on relieving the symptoms and stress of long-term illness. By allowing your parent to receive this comfort care, you may find that their quality of life improves and enables them to better enjoy their remaining time with family members. At Envision Hospice, we focus on providing comfort care for patients with terminal illnesses to further support the palliative care they may also be receiving elsewhere.

There is disagreement among family members about hospice care.

Sometimes siblings or family members may disagree, with some in support of hospice care, and others who are not yet ready to make that decision. Perhaps the burden of care is being felt more by certain members of the family. Talk this through together, but be sure to focus on your shared goal: getting your parent the quality care they need for this stage in life. 

Perhaps you find yourself resonating with one of these situations as you discuss care options with your family. Whatever the situation, keep these four things in mind when talking about hospice care with your parent or family members:

1. Recognize it’s about respecting your parent’s wishes. It’s important to listen and trust your parent in how they want to spend what time they have left. Many parents become worried about burdening their families with care, which can cause added stress and anxiety in addition to their illness. Choosing hospice care can help alleviate this worry and allow you time together to focus on what matters most.

2. Choose a focused time and space to have the discussion. This is not a conversation to be rushed. Do your best to gather all family members who need to be part of the conversation together and select a time and space free from distractions. Choose a time when your parent will have the most energy and focus as well. 

3. Talk about the value of hospice care. Choosing hospice care is sometimes the best decision you can make for a loved one. Hospice care provides symptom management, allowing your parent to get the added support and comfort they need from trained health care providers. This allows you to focus on other family matters and make the most of your time with your loved one.

Daughter talking about hospice care with mother

4. Work together to identify the best hospice situation for your parent. Talk with your parent about what hospice means to them and what type of care they are hoping for in addition to what you want to provide for them. Discuss together what you both want in the ideal hospice situation for your family. 

What matters most is that you talk this through together and remain open to the options that can help make your parent as comfortable as possible for their end-of-life care. Our staff at Envision Hospice are here to support you along the way. If you’re considering hospice, we want to help your loved one receive the comfort and peace they need through personalized care. To learn more about our hospice care services and how they can support your parent, contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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