Another Boat Flip…Getting Ready For Hospice by Lori La Bey
I realized Mom was in her end stages of Alzheimer’s disease given her weight loss and declining ability, so I decided to contact hospice about additional services. We set up a time to meet at the nursing home and review Mom’s case. Hospice needed to meet Mom, review her chart, and see what services would be best for her if she qualified for the program. To be honest when I set up this meeting, I was not sure what I was looking for or even what I expected. I just knew if Mom qualified for additional support I wanted her to have it. I wanted her remaining time to be as comfortable as possible. I wanted to maximize her quality of life.
The meeting with hospice was comfortable. They were friendly and caring. They made a difficult discussion, simple and as easy as possible. We went over all the technical stuff and then they asked, “What do you need Lori.” That is when I lost it. I apologized immediately for my behavior and they handed me a Kleenex and then another. “It’s ok this is what we are here for, Lori.” The hospice nurse said.
I was shocked and embarrassed of my behavior. I did not expect to break down and cry. I had put the call into hospice. I knew Mom was in her end stages, but by no means did I think she was going to die in the next few days. Where were all these emotions coming from? I knew the drill. I knew what to expect. I had been through this with my Dad. Hospice is a fantastic service, so why was I upset? Why was I crying? I was prepared, or so I thought and I continued to cry. “All I need,” I stuttered out, “was for my Mother to be well cared for in her final days.
There, that was it, “Her final days.” I was starting the countdown in my mind. “I want her to be pain free and able to enjoy life. As for how that happens, I’m not sure what all you have to offer.” And I cried some more. They reached out to hug me and give me yet another Kleenex, as they explained their services.
I told them, I was very happy with the care Mom was receiving at the nursing home. I wanted her to remain there, but felt additional services would be wonderful. We continued to talk and they listened as I told stories of my Mom.
It was decided hospice would evaluate Mom’s medications and see if they could get some in liquid form vs. feeding her ground-up pills. They even mentioned medications that come in lotion form. They could have a Pastor come visit. We discussed additional support for grooming, as this was such a struggle for Mom. They even had a music therapist, which I told them Mom would love. They would check on volunteers to visit with Mom. There would be extra staff reviewing her chart both nursing and social services.
They mentioned services for the family now and even after, Mom passes, if we were interested. I was so appreciative of their kindness and understanding. Hospice was not just another layer of protection for Mom, but all of us. No one should be fearful of calling them. They are angels helping people pass through life with dignity.
I remember leaving the nursing home that day thankful they were going to recommend Mom for Hospice, yet still balling my eyes out as I drove home. I thought I was going to have to pull off the road as I drove, even though I lived only a few blocks for the nursing home.
No matter how prepared I thought I was for this journey, no matter how wonderful the nursing home and hospice staff were, no one could change the fact my Mother wasn’t going to be around forever. I guess the old saying is true; you can never prepare for the loss of a parent. I did however, feel good about having hospice to come out knowing I was doing everything I could to ensure her last days were going to be the best they could be.
In the end, Mom was on hospice for one month. The good news was she improved during that time. The bad news was she was taken off hospice because she improved. What that means for the future, is that we will most likely go through this process all over again.