Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Topic: When is Hospice Appropriate?

The subject of hospice is an uncomfortable one. Why, because losing a loved one, up close and personal is hard. None of us have crystal balls giving us the inside scoop of life expectancy or how a life-limiting condition will complete our earthly exit. When I placed my mother in hospice, it was the most difficult decision I had to make as a caregiver. I knew it was the right one, but in my mind and heart, the thought of watching my mother slip away was hard for me to unravel from the personal side. Even with the financial plans in place, losing a loved one…and it's your mother… there are No Words! Over time, however, the experience was calming, due in part to a caring and compassionate hospice nurse. It made the difference!

Why Have Hospice Conversations?

I recently had a conversation with a dear friend of mine about placing her family member in hospice. What about this? What about that? Will he suffer? Will he understand why I did it? Will I be in the room at the very moment? What if I go to the bathroom and come back and “he’s gone.” These are real feelings, emotions, uncertainties, and fears.

The first thing I share with her is “you are brave and it will be OK.” It does not seem so right now, but over time it will become clear.

We never know how to feel or think when the end of life is upon us. In our family’s case, there was no time for the hospice talk due to the disruption of COVID-19. It is a horrendous demise, one you don’t want to talk about or re-live.

Is the talk on hospice the fear of death? Many individuals use their faith and beliefs to guide them. I believe that is a great start. Whatever, or whoever fuels ones’ strength, it should be leaned upon. It is true the two things we can count on are death and taxes. So why not prepare for death by being proactive. Here is how:

1. Start the conversation early with family and friends about life death and organ donation.

2. Have conversations about personal affairs and business affairs, including liquidations.

3. Advance directives can help the hospice conversation.

4. Talk about raw feelings. It is advantageous.

5. But for sure, know your loved one’s wishes.

This will make the conversation on hospice much more relaxed. Remember the goal of hospice sometimes considered palliative care(which we did not go into the discussion) is to ease suffering and remove aggressive care that does not advance curative outcomes. As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, I am here for you! Simply, reach out!

www.cynthiajhickman.info

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is author and speaker. Her book: From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor shares caregiving tips.