Last month I wrote about being able to separate emotional experiences from the business of taking care of an older person that you love. That is an extremely taxing venture which, in and of itself, can be emotionally draining. I discussed my Grandma and my own process in helping my family to make sure my Grandmother received the care she deserves. This led the discussion to hospice.
When most people hear the word hospice it is automatically associated with end of life. That is both true and false. It doesn’t mean immediate end of life. Most people agree to hospice in the final few days of a person’s life and don’t get to utilize all of the benefits offered for the person needing the care. Hospice can be used for those with a qualifying diagnosis. The general rule is that if the disease-state follows the normal course of that disease, then the individual will pass away within six months. Six months of wonderful service is much better than just a few days. Once six months have passed, the individual can be re-certified under hospice if they continue to qualify. Hospice can be utilized at home, hospital, assisted living facility and skilled nursing facilities. Generally, a hospice aide will come to see the person a couple of times a week and assist with bathing, oral care, changing bed linen, toileting, etc. A Registered Nurse (RN) also will visit a minimum of one day per week, but usually two to three days. An RN is also always on call to answer questions and provide assistance. Medications related to the disease-state are covered by hospice and are delivered to the person’s residence. Hospice also provides a comfort care kit with everything the family would need to make sure the person is resting comfortably. Chaplain services are also available for the person during this process, and for their loved ones during and after the process.
On July 4, I was sitting with my Grandmother when the doorbell rang. It was the hospice nurse coming to check on my Grandma on a holiday. She instructed me on how to adjust my Grandmother’s medication to make her more comfortable and made sure to tell me that if I needed anything to just call. She was there for about an hour checking on her and talking to us. It was a service that helped my family tremendously and I am happy my Grandfather made that difficult choice. On July 5, at approximately 4:15 a.m., my Grandmother left her earthly journey to go be with loved ones she has been missing for years. I credit hospice for making her journey a peaceful one.