Hospice care is misunderstood. I want to spread the news to all caregivers of loved ones with dementia, that this support system (provided, in my opinion, by angels) may not be what you assume.
When my mom fell at the dementia unit of a California assisted living facility, her physician ordered hospice care. I was confused why she did this as although my mom was certainly declining – she needed help being fed, which is not uncommon for people with advancing dementia – she wasn’t near dying and could still talk and walk.
I quickly found out why hospice was ordered, and am forever grateful for that decision.
First, it turns out that because of the hospice care workers visiting my mom, I was able to keep her in this lovely facility longer and take my time finding the right nursing home for her. You see, one requirement of staying in the facility was the ability to feed one’s self, so I knew I had to quickly find a new home for my mom before being told I must move her or hire around-the-clock private aides which I could not afford.
The search for an available bed in a nursing home proved nearly impossible. I had called and visited more than a dozen facilities and none had space for my mom. I felt helpless – it was an exhausting and frightening exercise not being able to find my mother a place where she could be cared for.
I was told by one nursing home director that short-term care is more profitable so facilities now have very few long-term beds available. You can imagine my reaction which I won’t go into right now. But where on earth are the seniors in California being care for?
Then out of nowhere, we got a call from a facility saying they have a room available and my mom can move in the next day. I cannot describe the relief! When I asked how we were able to get this bed, they told me hospice contacted them and being on hospice gave us entry.
My hospice angels at work.
At this moment, as I sit by my sweet mother’s bedside in her final hours, I see the most important benefits of hospice in action.
Nursing homes have many residents and a limited staff. Med techs and aides pop their heads in every few hours but cannot afford the time to educate me, to sit close with my mom, talk to her, hold her hand, rub her back, brush her silky hair, play music for her or recognize the dignity of replacing her hospital johnny with a rose pink shirt.
But that’s okay, the hospice angels have all that covered.
Next week we will post a blog about hospice for people with dementia, the best time to call hospice and the many other benefits it provides.