Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"H" is for Hospice

Hospice.

I still can't believe that we are there; at that point where the Doctor looked at me, and said "I think it's time to call in Hospice".

In my heart of hearts, I knew it was time.  Probably past time; we have been making heroic efforts to care for Mom on our own for a long time, and it was the catastrophic reaction that finally tipped the scales.

Imagine, if you can, trying to care for someone who is scared of her own poop.  Who is now scared *to* poop.  Because she just can't understand it anymore.

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I ran into a friend of ours, just the week before, when I was out shopping.  She lost her husband nearly 5 years ago, and when she asked how my Mom was doing, I asked her who the Hospice group was that she had used.  Just in case.  I made a quick note in my iPhone with her answer, and after a few more minutes, we parted company.  

I was glad that I had that information, because the Hospice group that she had used with her hubby had been fantastic.  I remembered how, even in her grief, she had praised every one from that organization, telling us over and over how amazing they were.

So, when the Doctor asked me - do you have a Hospice organization in mind?  I had a ready answer.  And, so far, our Hospice team has been great.  They are so sweet and gentle with Mom, and they have been so patient with me, and all of my questions.

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Our Hospice is a non-profit, church-affiliated group that  takes anyone, regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay.  

There is a 24/7 phone number I can call, if I need to ask a question, and Mom's "team" is made up of two nurses, two aides, a social worker, and a chaplin.  Oh, and there is the DME guy, who delivers all of the medical equipment, and also the pharmacy delivery guy, who brings out all of her prescriptions.

We have gone from struggling through every day, to suddenly having an almost mind-boggling amount of help and support.  

I feel both relieved, and sad.  

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We have no way of knowing how much longer Mom has with us.  She was placed into Hospice on the basis of "failure to thrive", with a diagnosis of dementia.
The "rule" for Medicare is that a Hospice patient is expected to live 6 months or less in order to qualify for Hospice.

However, both our Doctor and the Hospice Director told me that they personally know of patients who have lived *years* under Hospice care, so I am NOT going to assume anything regarding Mom's time left.

We are just going to try and enjoy as much as we can with her, and love her every day that we have left.  

In the end, that's what we should do with ALL of our loved one's, right?

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6 comments:

The Caustic Bunny said...

Hospice is a good, caring thing. Lost the old man to dementia and because of the financial nightmare he engineered while he was still sentient, hospice wasn't an option nor was anything other than my mom caring for him personally.
In the case of your mom, I suspect you miss being able to tell her how much you care for her and her comprehending.
In the case of the old man, I never got to tell him how dissapointed I was in him and him comprehending.
However, my suspicion is that you've shown your mom your appreciation in her good years and that somewhere in the recesses of memory she retains and cherishes that. You'll likely not see it but take it on faith. The old man did something just before he died that proved he retained a shred of memory and sanity.
My thoughts are with you. My guess is that you've been a pretty good egg all along and that your mom is comforted in that.

Thimbelle said...

Thanks, Bunny.

I (obviously) don't know everything that happened with your Dad, but I have learned that often the Dementia - the Alzheimer's or Vascular Dementia - is actually running their lives *long* before we become aware of it.

You are totally correct about my Mom... I pray every day that she somehow knows that we love her, and that we are doing our best for her. I hope she does find some measure of comfort, some feeling of safety and/or security.

Maybe your Dad was so disappointed in himself that he couldn't hear you.

I'm truly sorry for your loss, Bunny. And I appreciate your kind thoughts and words.

Suldog said...

You all remain in my prayers.

If I had better words of comfort, I'd give them...

Buck said...

I know life's end game is never easy, even under the best of circumstances. I'm glad you have help now and that your burden is somewhat eased, Thimbelle.

Hang in there. My best thoughts for you, your Mom, and your family.

Ericka said...

i'm so glad you got help. if only for your own mental health, it was probably due (or overdue). and i think it sucks rocks that you're in this spot at all.

i'm sorry, bunny - i didn't know.

my thoughts are with you.

alpharat said...

Catching up from not having visited in a while...

Having been there and seen if firsthand, hospice is good and caring. And it's about dignity.

Hang in there...