When a loved one has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, it may feel as though the best thing to do is to talk about anything and everything EXCEPT that diagnosis, to maintain a positive, upbeat atmosphere to keep the person’s spirits lifted. And while it certainly is a good idea to provide a bright spot in your loved one’s life by remaining optimistic, it’s equally important to provide the person with plenty of opportunities to talk through his or her thoughts, feelings, and fears.
The truth is, giving the dying person permission to discuss end-of-life issues can lift a hidden burden. So what’s the best way to let your loved one know you’re open to these kinds of difficult conversations?
Initiating a difficult conversation about end-of-life issues or care is never easy. Yet often the person receiving hospice care will be the one to bring up the issue. In fact, the reluctance to make the decision to discontinue curative treatment is often most difficult for the person receiving care BECAUSE of his or her family and loved ones.
The patient may be enduring treatment that is neither life-prolonging nor enhancing quality of life just to avoid addressing the unpleasant facts with family and loved ones. Or the family and loved ones may be postponing the discussion because of fear the patient will think that they have given up. Either way, an honest, open conversation is the best way to understand your loved one’s thought process and to provide the reassurance that you want what is best for him or her – and that you’re there to listen to anything and everything your loved one would like to share.
Once hospice care is in place, patients and their families alike often experience a great sense of relief, knowing the person receiving care will now have all of the understanding, love, and support needed, and the focus can be on simply spending quality time together.
The mindset should be that there are many things to do from this point forward. It’s a matter of shifting goals, not giving up on them. Shifting goals when there is nothing left to do for a cure means continuing treatment, continuing involvement of the physician, and continuing involvement of the family.
The hospice period gives patients an opportunity to finish up life’s business and let go in a way that they can feel at peace. And Harmony Home Health & Hospice is here to walk beside you every step of the way. Providing the high quality, compassionate hospice in Salt Lake City and the surrounding communities, we invite you to call us any time at 1-877-I-NEED-CARE, or complete our simple online contact form to request additional resources or to schedule an in-home consultation. To find out if our services are available in your area, visit our Service Area page.