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-Starting the Conversation-
The most common comment from patients and families is that they wish they had experienced hospice care earlier in the illness.
Suggested questions to start a conversation
Through evidence based research, the hospice foundation of America compiled a list of questions that can guide a conversation about end-of-life care:
What do you value most about your life?
If you were diagnosed with an illness that could not be cured, would you still want to pursue every possible treatment, realizing that some could negatively affect your quality of life?
Do you imagine wanting to stop curative efforts if they were to be unsuccessful?
If you were unable to eat or drink due to a terminal illness, would you want artificial nutrition and hydration even if it could cause complications and might not help you live longer
Understanding Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) could result in broken bones and other medical problems, would you want it if you were dying from an illness and were extremely frail?
If you could not breathe on your own, would you want mechanical ventilation?
How do you feel about an extended hospitalization, nursing homes?
Do you want to die in your home?
How much pain is acceptable to you?
Would you want to pain free even if it meant trading comfort for wakefulness or alertness?
Do you want to be with your family when you die?
What decisions regarding care do you want to entrust to others and who do you want to designate to make decisions?
Have your shared your care preferences with that person and taken necessary steps to ensure he/she is recognized as a proxy?
Do you want a funeral, memorial service or obituary?
What would you want a service to be like, for example, what music would you want at your funeral or memorial service if you had one?
Would you want your body to be buried, cremated, donated to science?
If you had organs that could be donated to help others or science, would you want to do that?
What do you hope for most regarding your death or the death of a loved one?
Speaking with loved ones
Discussing a care path or a change in the goal for care may be difficult for family members and close friends. Unless they have had a previous experience with someone living with advanced, progressive illness, they may be frightened, stressed and exhausted. Families and friends may not be familiar with hospice and all that it can do for both the patient and the caregiver(s). Hospice professionals are experienced in dealing with such circumstances and can help facilitate such discussion. It is better to initiate such discussions as soon as possible. Call us today to schedule a consultation and we can help.