How do I talk to my parent about entering hospice care?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

What do you do when you have a parent that has been on a ventalator for 6 months and is showing little improvement? How do you talk to them about the options of continuing medical treatment with little hope for improvement or stopping treatment and going home with hospice to die?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

This is a very hard conversation to have with anyone, but it will be especially hard for someone on a ventilator.  If your parent can communicate with you, I would try to talk to them to see if they feel they have a good quality of life.  Ask yes-no questions like, "Are you happy?"  or "Do you ever wish that you were not on the ventilator?".    Depending on their responses, you can direct your questions toward discussing hospice

Another suggestion I would have would be to contact the hospice organization (ask your parent's physician/ nurse/ social worker for the information).  Many of the hospice organizations have support services, and they can help you with your discussion.  Perhaps they could even come with you to address any concerns that you may have in front of your parent so that they can be part of the decision making process.