Starting the Conversation about Hospice

Dear Kirsten:

Senior getting care from nurseI am the primary caregiver for my 89-year-old mother who lives near me in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Over the past year her health has taken a significant decline. Last week when I had her to the doctor, he suggested it was time to consider hospice care.

My brother and sister both live out of state but will be here for Thanksgiving. Even though I’ve tried to talk with them throughout the year about Mom’s health, they are in denial. She talks with them by phone every week, but she always tells them she is doing “fine.” They haven’t seen her in person since last Christmas so I know they are in for a shock.

Do you have any advice for starting the conversation about hospice with them?

Lois W.

Dear Lois:

We hear similar stories from caregivers quite often. When siblings live out of state and aren’t able to witness a senior loved one’s decline for themselves, it is hard for them to accept that things really aren’t fine.

Make Sure You're Educated

If you are going to wait to have the conversation in person with your siblings, and that is usually the best way to approach this, use the time before their arrival to prepare. Get to know the local options for hospice care so you are ready to talk with your siblings about what is available.

Also be sure you understand the Hospice Medicare benefit. Many people incorrectly assume it is just for the final days or weeks of life. Hospice is actually a benefit that can last for six months or even longer.

Facing Reality

After your siblings arrive, I would say it is important to give them time to absorb the changes in your mother. If they have been in denial, they will need to adjust to a new reality about her health. I would pick a time when it is quiet and you all can talk without interruption. Your mother might want to be a part of the conversation or she may choose not to be.

Explain what the doctor recommended and why. Understanding why her physician thinks it is time for hospice is important. Share what you’ve found out about hospice and the local options for care and which one you think might be best.

If we can help you and your family through this time, please call us at (970) 204-6977.

All the best,


From personal care needs and case management to guardianship concerns, Seniors in Transition provides consulting services to help families turn frustrating health care problems into quality, affordable solutions. Seniors in Transition is here to help families in the Fort Collins, CO and Loveland, CO areas. Give us a call at 970.204.6977 today.

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