How To Talk To Someone Who Is Dying

Posted on Nov 14, 2018

Whether you’re a palliative care professional or close family member to someone who is nearing the end of their life, knowing what to say to someone who is dying can feel like a delicate and confusing tightrope walk. While our natural instinct is to soften the tone of our language to cushion them through the process, the opposite fear is being disingenuous with our words and ignoring the elephant in the room. In this piece, we’re going to explore how to speak to someone who is dying in a way that is supportive as well as sincere.

Remember That This Isn’t About You

When speaking with a person who is dying, we have the tendency to let our own thoughts and feelings guide our speech and even to make us feel the need to speak at all. In many instances, letting the individual guide the conversation is the key to the most supportive conversation you can have. If they want to know how you are feeling, they will typically ask, but remember that just because they don’t ask doesn’t mean they don’t care. This situation isn’t about you so it’s best to be a helpful passenger in the conversation rather than a backseat driver.

Never Speak To Someone Or About Someone As Though They’re Already Gone

Unless you work in hospice care or in some avenue of palliative care, we typically don’t interact with dying people that much. This lack of experience can make us emotionally combine the process of dying with the process of grieving a death. While grieving may begin even upon discovering that someone is dying, the language associated with grieving their death has a time and a place — after they’ve passed away. Offering sympathies to the families of someone who is dying or even carrying such a tone when speaking to dying is generally not helpful, if not insensitive to their current needs. While there is still time that can be spent with the person, it should be spent helping them in whatever capacity they need — physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

Feel Free To Dive Into Positive Memories

Our memories are our most prized possessions. When speaking with someone who is dying, if the conversation is flowing, feel free to ask them questions about some of their favorite memories. Ask them about their favorite people and the specific moments they have spent with them. Ask them if they have any particularly funny stories about these people. Ask them what details they love the most about their loved ones. Their answers can be tremendous mood lifters and distractions from hardships. This line of conversation comes with a disclaimer: Though memories can be great conversation starters, it is typically recommended to avoid asking them to recall specific memories that can either end up being painful or if illness or old age have made recalling memories difficult and therefore frustrating.

Don’t Offer Any False Assurances

Coming to terms with the idea of dying is a process unto itself, which makes the act of making false promises or assurances a step backward in the process for the dying. Though our gut reaction tells us that some words of hope may brighten a dying person’s day, the truth is that these false assurances only damage our trust with the individual. They know they are dying and they typically don’t appreciate being lied to. Be willing to talk about the elephant in room if they want to, but don’t make it any heavier with false hopes.

Don’t Be Afraid To Make Peace & Offer Thanks

Though we should make sure to remember that their dying process is not about us, if something we need to say will bring comfort to the dying, it is ok for it to be said. One area that feels negative but can ultimately be positive is asking for the forgiveness of a dying person for any wrong you’ve committed against them or hardship you’ve caused. While it may feel that asking of forgiveness may set a negative tone, asking for forgiveness frequently brings about feelings of reconciliation — a positive occurrence. And even though it may sting of finality, it is ok to thank the dying individual for the positive impact they’ve had on your life. Mentioning specific acts of kindness or ways they have helped you may be a great way to share some positive memories. Hearing specific details about your gratitude may leave the dying feeling better about the positive impact they’ve had on the world as well as the joyous moments you’ve shared.

Sometimes, There’s No Need To Speak

Nobody likes an awkward silence, but an awkward rambling of unguided, unproductive speech can be as equally uncomfortable. In many instances, a dying person, as well as grieving person, doesn’t need you to speak — they just need you to be there. A great approach can be to let the dying or grieving person initiate and steer the conversation. Lend your thoughts to keep the conversation going so they don’t feel like they’re speaking to a wall. In all things, be a helpful passenger on their journey.

4 Reasons Why You Should Plan For Your Death While You’re Healthy

Posted on Nov 07, 2018

planning for the future

As a perfectly healthy individual, unless you work in the healthcare industry, you probably don't talk about death that much. While talking about your own death while you’re still healthy can erroneously lead friends and family members to wonder if you know something that they don’t, talking about your own death is not only healthy but will also be appreciated by those you leave behind. But why? In this piece, we’re going to look at a few reasons why it’s beneficial to plan for your own death while you’re perfectly healthy.

1. You’re in control.

Probably the most obvious reason to plan for your own death is in to ensure that your final wishes are known. Because even the idea of death makes many people feel uncomfortable, many die before talking about it. Those who have died without having discussed their final wishes with family and friends then put those loved ones in the unfortunate scenario of guessing what final wishes would have been. Without your plans or your permission, your loved ones will simply have to wonder what you would have wanted. Not only will this lack of planning leave them forever wondering what you would have wanted and if they made the right decision, but it also makes them vulnerable to reason #2.

2. You’ll potentially save yourself and loved ones a lot of money.

When you haven’t made it clear how you would like to be laid to rest, those in charge of arranging your burial may feel the need to give you a grand send off...which may be more expensive than you would have wanted. Naturally, your loved ones won’t want to potentially “cheap out” on your final wishes, leading them to be vulnerable to funeral home up-sales. When you plan for your own death while you’re alive and still healthy, this allows you to price shop for the best deals with the freedom to be as thrifty as you want to be. Shopping for caskets, burial plots and even planning your funeral while death is not imminent is also the best time to do so because of what is included in #3.

3. You’re the most physically capable of planning for your death now.

There are those who remain completely lucid and functional until the very end. For most of us, declining health will make the task of planning for death that much more arduous. When you plan for your own death while you’re in peak health, you’re most likely to consider every detail, go after every savings, and take this burden off of your loved ones — a factor to take into consideration in #4.

4. Your loved ones will not want to.

Would your loved ones make your final arrangements if you hadn’t already? Absolutely. Do they want to have to do this? Absolutely not. Planning for the death of a loved one usually means that the individual being planned for is incapable of doing the planning for themselves — meaning that they’re usually in the process of dying or have already died. While you’re in this state, your loved ones will be absolutely beside themselves. Losing a loved one can be a severely traumatizing event that is made worse by then having to make a series of extremely significant and expensive decisions. One of the most generous things you can do for your loved ones is to plan for your own death as extensively as you can. In doing this, you’re basically removing the stinging burden of having to make every decision for you.

In future articles, we will discuss what aspects of your death you should consider when planning for your own demise.

4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Hospice Provider

Posted on Aug 23, 2018

hospice provider

Choosing who will care for your loved one during their final days isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. As most people aren’t familiar with the interworkings of the hospice industry, it’s common for families to experience some difficulties when comparing one hospice to another.

To make the best decision for your loved one and the rest of your family, consider these four factors when choosing a hospice provider.

Testimonials

Check for online reviews and testimonials. Finding out what people who have actually used a company’s services before think of the company can be a great starting point. Keep in mind that disgruntled customers often take to online reviews to vent frustrations, so be sure this is just one piece of the puzzle and not the evaluation method you use.

Mission Statement

Being a hospice provider is about more than just offering medical care. Emotional support and compassion should make up a large part of how a hospice provider operates. Examining a company’s mission statement and values will help you determine how much they value this side of the business.

Certifications

There’s a long list of certifications hospices and hospice employees can get. Some are more important than others, but the certifications a hospice holds will give you a good indication of what areas of service they prioritize.

Your Gut

Once you’ve narrowed your decision down to a couple of options, set some phone calls and in person meetings. You’ll likely end up meeting with a transition specialist or a social worker. If you get a bad feeling about a hospice provider during these meetings, it might be best to look elsewhere.

At Cura-HPC we work hard to provide the best possible care for our patients and their families. That means having a top quality medical staff and offering caring emotional support. If you are in need of a Tulsa hospice provider, please call Cura-HPC.

Common Hospice Misunderstandings

Posted on Aug 23, 2018

hospice

There’s a surprising amount of myths and misunderstandings surrounding hospice and palliative care. These misunderstandings will often delay families from enrolling in hospice or keep them from enrolling in hospice care altogether. A simple look at the facts will help those interested in hospice care understand the benefits of hospice and avoid these misunderstandings.

Here are some of the most common hospice misunderstandings and why they’re wrong.

Hospice is expensive

Quite the opposite actually. Medicare, Medicaid, and the majority of private health insurance companies all cover hospice care. This means patients and their families will rarely have to pay anything out of pocket for the care they receive while enrolled in hospice.

You can only have 6 months of hospice

This stems from the fact that patients must be certified as being terminally ill by a physician and have a prognosis of 6 months or less if the disease runs its normal course. This requirement does not mean patients can only receive a maximum of 6 months of care, because the physician’s prognosis may change over time. There is no limit to how much hospice care a patient can receive as long as they continue to get a 6 month prognosis from a doctor.

Hospice only happens in one place

While some patients may choose to receive hospice care by moving into a hospice facility owned and operated by the provider, hospice care can be administered in a wide variety of locations. A patient may receive care in their own home, a skilled nursing facility, a hospital, or almost any safe environment.

As you can see, the benefits are clear when hospice misunderstandings are corrected. If you or a loved one are in need of hospice care, call Cura-HPC for information about our hospice care services. 

How Respite Care Helps Families

Posted on Jul 27, 2018

Respite Care

When families enroll their loved one in hospice both the patient and the family get access to a wide range of hospice services. One of those services is respite care, which is temporary care provided for the patient at a hospital, nursing home, or inpatient facility so the family or friends who are acting as the patient’s primary caregivers can rest and take some time off.

Being a hospice caregiver can be incredibly draining, both physically and emotionally. As many hospice patients need constant care and attention, it can be difficult for caregivers to take care of themselves. The time off can allow families and friends a chance to recharge their batteries and take care of personal issues they may have been putting off due to lack of time and energy. Doing so lets the caregivers come back focused and ready to take care of their loved one.

In certain cases, family and friends may be temporarily unable to care for the patient due to extenuating circumstances. This can include illness, natural disaster or extreme weather, family emergencies, or other uncontrollable events. During these times caregivers can rest easy knowing someone will be there to care for their loved one.

Getting a break from the duties of caregiving offers physical and mental benefits.

  • Knowing their loved one is being cared for by a trained professional, caregivers can finally catch up on some of the sleep they’ve been missing out on.
  • Getting to step away from the day to day grind of caregiving will refresh a caregiver’s attitude and renew their energy.
  • Just by taking a few days off, caregivers have reported a major decrease in the amount of stress they feel.
  • Having some much-needed me-time will allow caregivers to return to their normal diet, exercise, and daily routine.

Respite care is a vital part of hospice care, for both the patient and the caregiver. If you are looking for a Tulsa hospice for your loved one, call Cura-HPC.