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Five Tips for Dealing with Difficult End-of-life Discussions

No matter how long you’ve been taking care of your elderly family member it’s not easy to talk about what might happen at the end of her life. Your every goal has been wrapped up in keeping her healthy, happy, and comfortable and you want the same for her at the end of her life. But sometimes these conversations are a lot more difficult than you anticipate.

Don’t Force the Conversation

Sometimes as a caregiver you might be trying to get to all the information, which can make you push the conversation a bit. But it’s much better for both you and your elderly family member if you let the conversations happen as they do. When these types of talks are forced, emotions can run high and that doesn’t do anyone any good.

Avoid Judging, Too

You also need to remember that this is about the end of your senior’s life, not yours. She may well make decisions and express preferences that don’t sit as well with you. That doesn’t mean that her decisions are wrong, it just means that you don’t agree with them. Try to avoid being judgmental and simply support her.

Your Family Member May Make Different Decisions Later

The biggest reason to avoid judging her decisions now is that she’s likely to make other decisions later. Her health can change and her approach to what she is willing and able to tolerate in terms of treatment can change over time. These plans you’re making together need to be flexible to accommodate this likelihood.

Try to Be Patient

If your elderly family member doesn’t want to have these conversations, that can make you frustrated. You might start making decisions without her or otherwise applying some pressure. Now is the time to practice some patience. When she’s ready and able to deal with these topics, she’ll be more likely to bring them up on her own.

You Still Have Time, Even if it Feels Like You Don’t

One of the reasons you might not be feeling so patient is because you see the time ticking away. You might even see your elderly family member’s health worsening and feel that you are both running out of time. Odds are good that you still have time to allow her to make her decisions, even if it feels exactly the opposite.

As your family member’s caregiver, you need to just be there for her any way that you can. You can lean on the guidance of hospice elder care providers to help you both through these tough talks and get to the answers that your senior needs the most.

If you or an aging parent is considering hospice elder care in Yardley, PA, please contact the caring staff at Serenity Hospice today. Call (215) 867-5405.

Michael Drew, LNHA

Michael Drew LNHA is the administrator of Serenity Hospice PA, servicing the greater Bensalem and Philadelphia areas. In this capacity, he leads and inspires the company’s mission of providing quality and compassionate end-of-life care and supportive services for patients and their families, and to enhance their quality of life. Michael’s hallmark is his genuine concern for patients and his dedication to meeting their needs.
A veteran of providing quality healthcare, Michael has served with distinction in a variety of leadership capacities for nearly two decades, notably as administrator for several Skilled Nursing Facilities in New Jersey. Known as an innovative and solution-oriented individual, Michael has his finger on the pulse on new trends and concepts in providing quality care.