How to Help Children Understand Hospice Care


Explaining Los Angeles palliative care can be a significant challenge for parents, especially if the child in question is not old enough to fully comprehend the concept of dying. According to Yale University Child Study Center, children develop a gradual understanding of death between the age of 5 and 7. Many children may struggle to comprehend that some illnesses cannot be cured and that death is permanent. They may be confused, angry, or sad about their loved one having to be placed in hospice care. Babies who can not yet communicate can also sense when the parent is in significant distress, resulting in behavioral changes. Fortunately, there is help available for you. You can learn how you can help your young children understand hospice care by following these tips:

Ask the child what they already know about the situation

You can provide your child with a safe space to express what they already know about the situation at hand. Allow them to ask any questions they may have about the person who is or is about to be admitted into Los Angeles hospice, as well. 

Be honest and do not delay

Many of us may delay telling children the truth simply because we are unsure how to present the issue correctly. We also may feel that “sheltering” them is the best way to go about it. Explain the situation in simple terms: “Grandma is sick and she needs people to take care of her.” When talking about death, do not refer to it as “going to sleep” or “going away.” This may further entertain a child’s “magical thinking” and will prevent the child from understanding that the person in question is not coming back. They may even think that there is something they can do to change the outcome when there clearly is not.

Allow the child to visit your relative

Your child may express the desire to visit your loved one in Los Angeles hospice care. Allow them to have that closure with them. This is especially important if the patient has played an active role in a child’s life. Depending on the illness that the individual has, you may need to explain the condition to the child so that they are not frightened or surprised by it. For example, a patient with dementia may have a difficult time recollecting important events or even remembering who the child is. Use age-appropriate language to help the child understand the disease.

Talk to a specialist

It is normal to feel unsure about how to talk to children when the family is going through difficult times. Because each child is different, they will not respond to these challenges exactly the same. You may benefit from talking to your child’s pediatrician or other child development expert on how to help your child during this trying time. After the death has occurred, have the child partake in our bereavement and grief support program. Faith and Hope offers in-person and phone counseling for both individuals and families. The transition to a new normal is rough for anybody, but it can help the child to know that their feelings are normal and nothing to be ashamed of. You can also take them to our annual patient memorial.

Our Los Angeles hospice and palliative care team is committed to your loved one’s highest quality of comfort and safety. Please call our toll-free number at (877) 797-1977 today if you have a relative who is in need of hospice care.