As a Gerontologist, I am asked almost daily how to care for someone that is older. I provide the answers and try to help guide these individuals through the process, whatever process that may be. Interestingly enough, I never really sat and thought about what would happen if I was the one needing the guiding or knowing that someone close to me wasn’t going to be around much longer.
I found out recently that my Grandmother was placed under hospice. I heard the word hospice and had the same reaction most people have when they hear that word. I got home from work that day and had my “this is it” experience, got in the car the first thing the next morning and went to see her. I, as most family members would do, thought worst case scenario on the drive there. I pictured what she would look like, wondered if she could talk, was this going to be my last good-bye and had pretty much lost all logical thought.
Right before I got there I realized I needed to step outside the box. I needed to be a gerontologist, or just use logical thinking, and look from the outside in versus inside out. I needed to use common logic to make sure the visit was positive and productive for my grandparents and me. I needed to remember that hospice is not a death sentence and is extremely beneficial to those that need it.
The point is that you don’t have to be formally trained in aging to step out of the box. Decisions regarding your loved ones can be emotionally exhausting.
That exhaustion causes poor logic which can lead to poor decision making in terms of care. It can also make you see things much worse than they actually may be. Emotionally-driven decision-making rarely results in decisions being truly made on behalf of the person dying.
More so they are for the person suffering the loss. Promoting as much of a positive experience as possible when going through the end of life with someone is beneficial to all those involved so take a deep breath and step outside the box. By doing so, I was able to answer questions for my grandfather and I had a great visit with my grandmother.