Carroll Hospice
Talking About Hospice Care

For many people, initiating a discussion about hospice care can be difficult. “We’re a death-avoiding culture,” explains Bill Lee, a Carroll Hospice social worker. “In our culture, death is taboo.”

People react in a variety of ways when it comes to talking about death. Some people shut down, but many want their wishes to be known. Some send subtle clues or messages, such as asking who wants certain possessions when they pass away, and those messages could be a good way to kick-start the conversation—if the recipient is listening and receptive.

For some, it’s helpful for a third party, such as a hospice employee or a physician, to guide or start the conversation because of his or her expertise in the subject, says Lee.

No matter what the situation, Lee says it all comes down to one thing: Hospice is a choice. Ultimately, the dying process is about loss of control. Some folks realize they could benefit from hospice care, but refuse it, thinking ‘If I sign up for hospice then I’m dying,’ he says. Giving patients a choice and validating how difficult the choice can be can sometimes clear up misconceptions.
 
One way to start the conversation is to discuss advance directives with your loved ones before it becomes an immediate need. An advance directive is a legal document that dictates your health care wishes if you are unable to express them. Having this conversation— and having it early is an ideal way to broach the subject of final wishes with family members.

Click here to learn more about advance directives or to access advance directive forms.