By Victor Montour
A young daughter moved home 3 years ago to assist mom with dad who has heart disease, mild dementia and a host of other ailments. Without warning mom passed away suddenly from a brain tumor newly diagnosed early last fall and she passed away two weeks later. Suddenly, she was planning her mother’s funeral and taking care of her dad on her own. She had just buried her mom and her dad came down with pneumonia and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure less than two weeks later.
After 6 weeks in and out of the hospital, she and her brother realize this is a vicious cycle for Dad. His doctors say he likely won’t get better and they should consider hospice. She is scared to death because frankly, it’s just her and she doesn’t know anything about being a caregiver. When her brother is done visiting, he gets to go home to his family and she now lives with dad and feels all alone. Hospice does have a nurse and aide coming in a few times a week, but otherwise it’s just her. She had to suspend/give up her business. Dad is fighting her on the bathroom issue- he needs lots of assistance and must wear a diaper. She knows he is scared and feels humiliated. How does she help him understand she is just trying to help? She struggles everyday trying to reposition dad in bed by herself so he is comfortable. This daughter wants more guidance and support and just is not sure how to get it.
What is it about hospice that is scary? Is it knowing your loved one is at the end of life? Is it knowing you or your family are going to become a caregiver you never planned on being. Or is it the fear of doing something wrong? I say it’s all of the above. This young lady is very fortunate because she and her brother have opted to enroll their father into hospice. Now you’re thinking what can be so fortunate about hospice? Her dad is dying. Well, let’s talk about that.
A hospice worth its weight in salt will not only complete an admission assessment on the father to start medical care for him, but they should complete a spiritual and psycho social evaluation on the family. Upon this assessment the hospice would discover the very recent loss of the wife and mother and the loss of her business. This puts the hospice in a special position to add grieving support to the daughter, son and the patient.
This evaluation will also help the hospice understand the fears and concerns the daughter has about taking care of dad at home. Again a good hospice will spend the time to listen and validate the daughter’s fears and concerns. As each team member meets with the daughter more and more of her concerns should be addressed. Like providing education on ways to deal with dad’s bathroom issues or showing the daughter different ways to scoot dad up in bed. Yes, hospice is intermittent, but that does not mean you’re alone. Your hospice should be ready to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If hospice scares you or if you have any questions call 303-957-3101 or 970-776-8080 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Look for our next Blog: It’s Never too Late to Say ‘Thank You’