How to Prepare when a Loved One Turns to Hospice Care
When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, the months and years that follow can be filled with difficult decisions and tough conversations. One of the most emotionally trying moments is a loved one’s announcement that they’re entering hospice. After all, hospice is commonly associated with end-of-life care. It can be hard to hear a loved one say that they’re ready to stop exploring curative treatments.
However, contrary to popular belief, entering hospice isn’t “giving up.” Although patients do generally turn to hospice once they have exhausted their potentially curative options, hospice care is designed to help patients enhance their quality of life. When your loved one decides to pursue hospice care, they aren’t letting their cancer win – they’re simply looking for options that can more appropriately address the physical symptoms they’re experiencing.
Hospice workers will provide your family member with a comprehensive range of care. In addition to nursing service, they will also make sure your loved one’s emotional, spiritual and psychosocial needs are met. For inpatient centers, they will provide round-the-clock monitoring in case of a medical emergency. Patients who receive outpatient care will receive companionship and personal care from their hospice nurses.
Even when you agree that hospice is the best choice for your loved one, it can still be tough news to swallow. However, there are several ways that you can prepare yourself and the rest of your family for the switch in your loved one’s care.
Steps to Make the Transition Easier
It’s perfectly normal to feel sad or overwhelmed at this time. Allow yourself to experience the full range of emotions, but keep the following things in mind:
- Remember that it is the patient’s decision –
not yours. Even if their choice comes as a shock, try to be as supportive of their decision as possible. If they want to talk about it, try to listen; if they are not interested in the conversation, avoid pressing them for more information and opt to support them instead.
- Support groups can be one of your most valuable resources. Many other families are going through – or have already been through – this same situation. Support groups can help you connect with others who understand exactly what you’re feeling. You may even be able to access these support groups through your loved one’s new hospice provider.
- Agree as a family to visit the loved one as much as possible during their time with hospice. Check in frequently with your loved one. Spend time talking about the experiences you’ve shared and ask them about their favorite memories.
Above all, let your loved one know that you love them unconditionally. The more love you send their way, the more you will feel in return.
Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for The Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer.