The diagnosis of a life-limiting illness is devastating. It creates emotions, issues and anxiety unequal to almost anything else in life. It’s all too easy to slip into the “comfort” of denial, pretending that if the issue is not discussed, it will fade into the background.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Avoidance can complicate the situation. In fact, most of our families say they wish they had called hospice sooner. It’s important to understand hospice life expectancy: Hospice is appropriate for those who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness with a life expectancy of 6 months.
In fact, it’s vital to have this discussion about advanced health care decisions long before a crisis arises. We also understand that for many families, it is a difficult discussion to begin. This complete family discussion guide will help you start the conversation.
How to Start the Conversation About Hospice Care
1. Decide Who Needs to Be Involved in the Discussion
Who has been responsible for helping your loved one seek care? Do close friends need to be a part of the conversation, or is it better to keep it private among family members? These are some of the questions you should consider.
It’s also important for families and patients to have the information needed to have a productive discussion. This may involve speaking with physicians, hospice workers or religious/ spiritual leaders.
2. Make Preparations with an Advance Directive
An advance directive legal documentation that provides written instructions about your health care if, for some reason, in the future, you are not able to speak for yourself. It’s imperative to have one so that you or your loved one’s wishes will be made known before the disease progresses; it’s often impossible to have a comprehensive discussion when patients are sick, in pain or sedated. Therefore every family needs to understand the magnitude of an advanced health care plan.
Why is an Advance Directive Important?
The importance of fully understanding the hospice patient’s wishes cannot be overemphasized. Begin the Conversation, an advanced care planning program through Lower Cape Fear LifeCare, illustrates this importance with the following statistics:
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