Talking to a parent or loved one about hospice is a challenging—but necessary—conversation.  From both the perspective of the caregiver and the receiver, it’s a difficult conversation. A survey conducted by The Conversation project in 2013 found that 90% of people believe that talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important. Yet, despite that, only 27% reported having the conversation.

It’s important to understand that beginning to think about your loved one’s end-of-life care is not the same as giving up on them.  The end of a person’s life is a natural part of their journey. When that time comes, I think we’d all like it to be as comfortable, painless, and fulfilling as possible.  That’s why it’s crucial to start having these conversations with your loved ones early on so you can know what they want toward the end of their life.  You may consider having these conversations earlier than necessary; it’s much better to get on the same page months or even years in advance than during a medical crisis.

Getting Started

You may be wondering, “How do I start a conversation with someone about end-of-life care?”  It can certainly be challenging to start a conversation like this, but there are a few tactics you might use to make it easier:

  • Start by having a practice conversation with a friend
  • Think about what you would want at the end of your own life
  • Write a letter or a note to yourself to get your thoughts in order
  • Find icebreakers for the conversation

Much of the information in this blog is from the Conversation Starter Kit, published by The Conversation Project and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.  We have received express permission from the Conversation Project to distribute this kit.  If you’d like a copy, please feel free to download your copy here.


If you have further questions about hospice care or how you or a loved one could benefit from hospice care, please reach out to one of our patient care advocates. You can speak to them directly by calling the phone number provided on our website.


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