Nearing the end of a family member’s or a loved one’s life is a sensitive time for everyone involved. Fear of loss and death can be overwhelming, and for some family members, it feels easier to keep the truth from their loved ones. How can you tell someone they are moving into hospice because there are no more effective treatments? The answer may be simpler than you think: talk to your loved ones honestly and gently.
Establishing Trust is Key
Talking about the end of a person’s life can feel awkward, even if they have reached old age. Family members often feel that acknowledging the possibility of death means giving up hope, preferring to look the other way rather than facing uncomfortable facts.
However, in many cases, the person approaching home hospice care understands their situation even before anyone else addresses it directly. Broaching the subjects of death, dying, and hospice care is easier when there is a foundation of trust between the carer or family member and the person they need to talk to.
As carers, we work to establish that trust by being honest with our patients over time. We have come to find that keeping the truth from patients can be more detrimental than offering accurate information about their condition. This approach allows patients and their families to prepare and make better decisions along the way.
Making a Personal Choice
Unfortunately, there is no single right way to talk to loved ones about the end of their lives. When and how to bring up the subject of hospice care depends on the patient’s circumstances and personality. For example, someone who is used to dealing with problems head-on may take the news more easily than a person who struggles with unwelcome truths.
Consider the mental state of your loved ones. No matter the age or physical health of a person, if they are of sound mind, they deserve to hear the truth. You may feel awkward about telling that truth, but that awkwardness has more to do with your emotions than the concerns of your family member.
Finally, do not hesitate to ask a professional carer or home aide for help. Hospice nurses and other staff are trained to handle difficult conversations. They can help you find the right moment and choose the kindest words for your entire family.