When A Loved One Resists Hospice

when a loved one resists hospice

There are many reasons people are resistant to hospice care, but reasons typically fall into one of three categories: fear of death/dying, difficulty accepting treatments are not working, or misunderstandings about what hospice is or what we do.

Common Reasons One Resists Hospice And How To Support Them

As hospice care providers, our primary goal is to serve the client. Serving the family and close loved ones is a very close second. However, we can’t do our job without a client’s willingness to explore our services and take advantage of the benefits we offer.  That is unfortunate because in almost all cases, the thoughts, “we need extra help,” “should we think about hospice (or palliative care),” or “I don’t want to live like this anymore,” are all signs that it’s time for hospice care. That said, your helpful brochures, pressing information/research, or pleas may fall on deaf ears if your spouse, partner, or family member is resistant to hospice.  In that case, it’s important to remain compassionate, patient, and curious about WHY they resist. Here are some of the most common reasons people resist hospice and how you may be able to support their shift into considering it.

They equate hospice with dying or giving up

This is one of the biggest reasons individuals or their spouses/partners are resistant to hospice. Hospice does not mean you are giving up or that death is imminent (although the longer you wait, the more likely the latter will become true).  In fact, hospice means you have a terminal or chronic illness/condition with a prognosis of six months or less if the disease runs its course or the client experiences disease complications. That said, quality of life often improves so much that many clients have hospice for many months or even upwards of a year or more after ceasing curative treatments. Flip the script: Acknowledging and preparing for the end-of-life is essential for every adult, especially those with chronic or terminal conditions. Learning all you can about end-of-life care options, including palliative and hospice services, is empowering and helps clients and families make the right decisions to improve their quality of life sooner rather than later.  Hiding your head in the sand means missing out on making the most of the time you have left. If someone fears death or struggles to speak about end-of-life, hospice social workers, counselors, and chaplains are available anytime to work through these conversations with open and empathetic awareness.

They are afraid to admit treatments aren’t working OR treatments are making life worse and not better

There are only so many treatments or medical procedures can do to heal, provide relief, or make things better. In many cases, a chronic condition overcomes a treatment’s ability to heal or help. At that point, the treatment or rigor of the appointments necessary to provide treatment becomes exhausting and debilitating. This wall can be crippling for some patients, but their unwillingness to accept the beginning of the last chapter of their life means they refuse any palliative care or hospice services. Shift the focus: Instead of forcing acceptance about end-of-life issues, talk about taking a much-needed break to regroup, reassess, and make decisions that align with their values and perceptions of quality of life. Hospice can come on board to provide the support necessary during that reprieve and wise counsel – and patients can go back off hospice to resume treatments – or pursue new treatments – whenever they choose.

Resists hospice because they’ve fallen prey to hospice myths

 Hospice myths abound. Some of the most common hospice myths that make people resistant to hospice are:
  • We can’t afford it. In fact, hospice is 100% free to all qualifying patients, regardless of age or economic status. It is paid for by Medicare, although private insurance benefits may also cover hospice services. We’ll help you do everything required to bring hospice to your home, hospital/assisted living facility, or our hospice house.
  • It’s only for people on Medicare. Similarly, many believe they have to be on Medicare to get hospice care. However, Medicare pays for hospice services for anyone who is a legal U.S. citizen or resident, whether they’re currently on Medicare or not. Once you qualify for hospice service, which occurs during an assessment by a hospice physician and intake team, you qualify for Medicare’s hospice coverage.
  • I’m not close enough to dying yet. The longer qualifying clients are on hospice the better. Studies show that while most people wait too late to contact hospice (in the last week or days of life), clients’ quality of life and their life expectancy improves drastically by enlisting hospice care sooner rather than later. Our services provide tremendous relief and peace of mind, which makes the day-to-day more comfortable, stress-free, and meaningful for clients and loved ones.
Other common hospice myths that keep people from contacting hospice when they should are: Choose to be informed: The best thing you can do to help someone see outside of these common myths or hospice resisting narratives is to get them accurate information. Hospice and palliative care agencies are happy to meet with you at any time to discuss their services and how they can support you. Personalized care is our highest priority. And, as mentioned above, the client is always in control.

Having A Hard Time Opening The Conversation Around Hospice?

If you’re having a hard time opening the conversation around hospice care or end-of-life care, we’re here to help in any way we can. The staff at Hospice of the Golden Isles is passionate about educating the public and making sure they understand the numerous and invaluable benefits of choosing hospice care as soon as you possibly can. Contact us to learn more, at 912-265-4735, or to schedule a consultation.
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Hospice of the Golden Isles.
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912.265.4735 | toll-free at 866.275.6801
1692 Glynco Parkway | Brunswick, GA 31525
501(c)(3) non-profit organization | License #GA063007H
Privacy Policy 
Copyright ©2020 Hospice of the Golden Isles.
All rights reserved.

Members United Way of Coastal Georgia
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National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Member