Hospice is Right at Any Age
Posted by Marlene Delaney
If you have read my previous posts here at Your Best Day, Today, you know that my experience with Midwest CareCenter has been based on the death of my 48 year-old husband, Tom. He died too young but, as I have said so many times before, the care he received at Midwest CareCenter turned a terrible thing into a comfortable, loving event. But I actually had experience with hospice in a completely different setting when my mother died in 2006.
She was 88 years old, had raised five children into adulthood, had numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She had been relatively healthy her whole life until 2001, when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She had surgery and was relatively healthy again and cancer–free.
But in the summer of 2006, my mother fell. When elderly people fall, it seems to be a sign of a change in their lives. She ended up with a fracture in her pelvis which is something that can't be surgically repaired. The doctors couldn't tell if the fracture caused the fall or was a result of the fall. Either way, she couldn't walk well and quickly regressed into a very dependent person. She moved from her assisted living space into the rehabilitation area of the nursing home, unhappy that she would now share her space with another patient.
My sisters live near our hometown so they carried the brunt of the day-to-day dealings with my mother's life. I would make the two hour drive on the weekends to visit, knowing that the time with my mother was limited. I would try to take one of my children along so I would have company on the drive and so my mother could see her youngest grandchildren. My daughter came along most times and she would keep my mother company if I had to run an errand. They were good buddies. Another time, my son came along and when he walked into the room at the nursing home, my mother said to the attendant, "That's my grandson!" I knew seeing my children was a highlight for her.
She hated her physical therapy, like most elderly people. She also didn't eat much. (As a note, as my mother aged, she ate less and less, which my children enjoyed, because they always got her leftover fries and chicken fingers.) My mother deteriorated over the next few months and, after a trip to the hospital for reasons I can't remember, the doctor said it was time for hospice care. She returned to a small, private room at the nursing home. There she was visited by the hospice nurse every day – checking to see if she was comfortable and pain free. On Thanksgiving, my family spent the day with my mother, knowing that it would likely be her last holiday. The hospice nurse visited and said it was almost time. We all gathered around my mother for goodbyes and shared good memories with each other. My mother died peacefully that night.
Little did I know then that hospice would have a much more profound impact on my life just a few years later. Hospice was the right choice for my 88-year-old mother, and it was the right choice for my 48-year-old husband.