Hospice can help caregivers well before our loved ones reach the end. In many cases hospice organizations can provide supplies and in-home aid that we struggle to obtain on our own. Despite the value of this support there is some stigma around the term hospice. Many #caregivers hesitate to say the word.
The past few months have been so difficult at our house. We suffered through the winter snow and ice storms. A member of my weekly support team injured her wrist and couldn’t help us. Another person couldn’t get here because of serious car problems. At the same time, I was struggling to get mom’s tax records together, do my own taxes, and finish the renovation of her old home. All these issues swirled together to create a funnel of chaos in my life. My work suffered. Some times I couldn’t sleep. I felt like I was collapsing into a swamp of pain each night. Sore back, aching shoulders, worried mind.
Somewhere in the midst of this tempest, one of our helpers told me about a hospice group that helped her grandmother. She raised the subject gently and with tact. She said, “I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I just think they might be able to help. They supported my grandma for nearly two years before she passed.”
As she explained it, the word hospice sounded less like a betrayal. I’ve always felt that I should keep my thoughts about Mom’s mortality to myself. My mother can’t speak. Maybe she does think about death, but I feel it’s unfair for me to share my fears when she can’t voice hers. This might be completely misguided thinking. I just haven’t been sure how to broach the topic in her presence.
Some Benefits of Hospice Care
The hospice group — which is named Compassionate Care — came to our house within hours of my first phone call. They sent a nurse to assess Mom’s health that night. The nurse approved services right away. Within 48 hours, I heard from another nurse, two chaplains, and a social worker. My work schedule was very busy so I felt a bit overwhelmed by the sudden flood of attention. But since they started working with our family, the hospice team has provided tremendous help.
Now UPS delivers basic supplies like chucks, gloves, and wipes to our door. That means I don’t have to drive to CVS or Rite Aid every few days. They’ve assigned an aide to help out at our house four days a week. I also learned that they arrange #respite care for family #caregivers. I never really wanted to discuss my fears about mom’s decline, especially not with strangers. Yet I’ve already engaged in several two-hour conversations that involved a lot of soggy tissues. Seems like there may be more of these talks in my future.
I’m not saying hospice is the right choice for everyone. But I’m sure I would have put this off longer if someone hadn’t suggested it to me. By waiting, I’d still be missing out on valuable help. We had my mom evaluated for hospice once before. At that time, they said she was a borderline case. This time the nurses had no doubts. The only one with doubts was yours truly. By erasing these doubts, I realize that seeing things more clearly is a great blessing.