Catrina dealt with hospice care for her grandmother.
My Experience With Hospice Care
people found Catrina's experience helpful.
Hospice care has come into my life twice, first with my grandfather and lately for my grandmother. Over time, like many people who are aging and nearing the end of their lives, my grandma got to a point where she was struggling to eat, stay awake, or even know what was going on around her. Hallucinations, exhaustion, and generally being unwell left her in a position that I knew was likely the end of the road.
Selecting hospice was something my parents had focused on with my dad's brother and sisters. The hospice team was one used throughout the nursing home and was known for having good service and providing care for not only the patient, but also for the families struggling with the death to come.
Most importantly, I noticed that the largest struggle of hospice care is knowing when to start it. I watched the nursing home call my dad over and over; every time, there was a short debate over whether or not hospice should be called. Calling hospice is one of those things that means you need to acknowledge that your family member is on his or her deathbed, and if you still have hope for the person to be well, then it can make that decision harder.
I was surprised to learn that the hospice facility wasn't just there to provide pain medications and comfort to my grandma. My mom and dad both told me how the hospice workers were there with them, keeping them calm, updated, and comforted during the process. Since I didn't get to be there as much as they could be, knowing that someone on the outside of the situation was there and doing the hard work to allow them time to grieve was comforting.
As the grandchild in this situation, I didn't get to make the final call on when hospice was called in. If I could do the situation all over again, I would suggest that hospice should be called sooner. The stress of my parents getting phone calls in the middle of the night and getting alerted to false alarms over my grandma's nearing death could have been avoided; hospice knew what was happening and knew the dying process well enough not to be alarmist.
If someone is looking into hospice care for a loved one, I have some advice to share. Hospice care is absolutely there to comfort your loved one and to give him or her pain relief, baths, and other care that the person can't give him- or herself. Nursing homes have less staff than they should, and there aren't always enough people to help. Having hospice care there is different; you can personally know that your loved one is being cared for and that you are in your loved one's thoughts. Knowing that my grandma wasn't suffering and had 24-hour care was an immense relief. I would call hospice sooner, rather than later, and focus on the comfort it can provide rather than the fact that hospice coming in typically is only done when your loved one is going to die. Death is a part of life, but knowing that it was as comfortable as possible to go through that process will take away a lot of the stress of the situation.