Talking to Your Senior About the Possibility of Hospice Care

The end of your senior’s life isn’t something you want to think about, but as a family caregiver it is not something you can avoid. It is important for you to be honest with yourself and with your parent about this aspect of their life and of your care so together you can make decisions that are right for them. This is particularly important if they are living with a serious disease such as Parkinson’s disease that will result in challenges for them during the last stages of their life. Not only does this ensure that their needs will be met and that their wishes will be honored, but it will ease your stress and anxiety as you worry about making difficult decisions during already challenging times. While there are many decisions to be made regarding the end of your parent’s life, one that can be particularly meaningful is whether hospice care would be a benefit to them. Hospice care does not focus on healing conditions or ending diseases, but rather on providing relief, support, and comfort as your parent moves through their end-of-life transition.

Use these tips to help you talk to your senior about the possibility of hospice care as part of their care journey:

  • Be clear about what hospice care is and isn’t. Your senior may worry that hospice care means “sending them away” or that they will no longer be able to have any control over their life. Reassure your parent they can receive this type of support right in their home, and will continue to pursue their highest quality of life.
  • Talk about wishes regarding artificial life sustaining measures. Hospice care does not work in conjunction with measures such as life support or aggressive treatments, so if your parent wants these, they should discuss alternative approaches to this transition. Keep in mind your senior will still be able to receive their Parkinson’s disease medications and other symptom-control measures.
  • Explain the benefits for you. It is important that your parent understands that this decision is not just about them, but also about you as their family caregiver and their adult child. Hospice care can also provide support measures for you that will help you cope with the most difficult aspects of this transition. Knowing that this type of care will benefit you as well can help your parent to feel less like they are being a “burden” or causing trouble by needing further care.
  • Consider when to start. Hospice care is meant as the final phase of care and support for an elderly adult. Talk about what signs you should look out for when it’s time to shift into this type of care.

As a family caregiver, your most important priority is doing everything you can to give your parent their highest quality of life. This doesn’t change even when your aging parent is dealing with a serious health issue such as Parkinson’s disease. Even as your senior is moving toward their end of life transition, the level of care and support you give to them shouldn’t lessen. Instead, you should continue to strive to help your parent remain as comfortable, healthy, and fulfilled as possible throughout this phase of their life. This can be challenging, but senior care can help. Having a senior home care services provider as a part of your senior care routine with your aging parent gives them access to high-quality, customized care. Not only does this mean they will have everything they need to manage their challenges as they age in place, but you will be able to take more time away from the care routine so you can take care of yourself, and also focus on your parent-child relationship during this difficult time.