Hospice Experiences

In response to Joy Johnson’s article

Challenges of dying at home, revisited — The Memories Project

When I worked as an Assessor at the Area Agency on Aging, I heard only rave reviews about Hospice Services.  Our own family experience, which I write about in my book What to Do about Mama? was also positive. 

A hospice group supplied my mother-in-law with a transport chair so I could get her out of the house to go to the senior center, and with travel oxygen so she could go to the beach with her daughter. In other words, although hospice eases the process of dying, it also facilitates and encourages the process of living.

What to Do about Mama? p 170

Families often overlook or do not consider hospice when they feel they don’t need it yet. “There is a tenacious and lasting perception that hospice comes in only when people are on their deathbeds. Of course, hospice does take care of dying patients, but that is certainly not all it does. Hospice also helps caregivers by providing home-health aides. It gives emotional and spiritual support to the family as well as to the patient. Hospice loves to come in and help people enjoy everything they can do in life.

What to Do about Mama? p 170

However, all circumstances are not the same.  My daughter-in-law’s mother passed away surrounded by family.  Her husband, sister, and children all pulled together and shared the responsibility for her care, augmenting the services hospice provided.  Her wishes were honored and she spend as much time with family as she could.  I was told that when she died, there was a smile on her face.  I suppose you could say that her death was about as good as a death can be. But this family communicated openly and confronted death according to their mother’s wishes.

 My son-in-law’s (SIL) mother also had hospice services at home.  But there had been more denial and less opportunity to let her wishes be known. 
(See previous blog: The We Don’t Need It Yet Phenomenon)

Hospice had brought in a bed so SIL’s Mom could sleep in a room downstairs.  During the night she got up to go to the bathroom and fell.  She had no hands-on-help because her husband was sleeping in the bedroom upstairs.  The next morning the hospice nurse sent her patient to the local hospice facility—to be more safe, I presume. This is not the place she wanted to be, and she passed away soon afterward.    

Talk about it beforehand. You won’t regret that you did.



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