Make a list. Writing down questions before you talk with your loved one’s doctor will keep the conversation on track, especially if emotions run high. Bring to the appointment a list of things like recent hospitalizations and noticeable health declines (e.g. increased falls, weight loss).
Be honest and expect it in return. It’s important to be honest with your loved one’s doctor 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? Do they agree hospice 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 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 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 discuss the visit and agree on next steps. If you determine it’s time for hospice, anyone—including the patient or a family member—may contact hospice 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 free consultation.