Learn more about how to have an important — but sometimes difficult — discussion about end-of-life care.
It may not be easy to discuss care when you or someone you love is diagnosed with a terminal illness, but it is an extremely important conversation to have. We asked Dr. Kelle Brogan, Renown Hospice and Palliative Care, to offer some tips on how to approach a discussion on end-of-life care.
When is the right time to ask about hospice?
Now is the best time to learn more about hospice and ask questions about what to expect from hospice services. Although end-of-life care may be difficult to discuss, it is best for family members to share their wishes long before it becomes a concern. This can greatly reduce stress when the time for hospice is needed. By having these discussions in advance, patients are not forced into uncomfortable situations. Instead, patients can make an educated decision that includes the advice and input of family members and loved ones.
What are some questions patients can ask their care providers to get the conversation started?
It can be difficult for patients to bring up the topic of hospice care when they are already dealing with so much. There are several topics that patients and their family members can bring up to get the conversation going. Here are some suggestions:
- Ask about the current disease state. What is currently happening and what will happen in the future?
- Ask about the treatment and the goals of treatment. What is the main aim of the treatment? Is there a possibility of a cure? How do I know if the treatment is working? How likely is the treatment to control this disease? What treatment comes next?
- Ask about symptom management. Will continued treatment make me or my loved one feel better or worse?
- Ask about the expectation and prognosis. What’s the best-case scenario? What’s the worst-case scenario? Can you give me a time frame?
- Ask about lifestyle, support and planning. What can help me get the most out of my life? Are there groups or organizations that would be useful for me or my caregivers?
- Ask about hospice care. How will I know when I might need to consider hospice? What is likely to happen at the very end?
What questions should caregivers be asking?
It’s important for caregivers to know what information will be helpful for them. Hospice isn’t just care for the patient. Hospice care is also there to help family members and caregivers understand, prepare for and support each other through a final illness. Hospice can help families and caregivers make the right choices for themselves. Hospice also continues to care for them after their loved one has passed away.
Caregivers can start the conversation by asking questions such as:
- What skills will I need to care for my family member with a terminal illness?
- What can I do to care for myself and cope with caring for my loved one?
- Where can I get more resources and help?
To learn more about Renown Hospice Care, visit renown.org/hospice or call 775-982-2828.