This weekend, I’m flying out to Houston to visit my ninety-seven year old grandmother. Granted, it is not a great time to fly right now with all the crazy things going on in the news… but this trip was planned a while back and it may be the last time I get to spend time with my grandma. She now has end stage dementia and I feel it may be time to introduce the idea of hospice to the extended family. I am approaching this topic with some hesitation because I realize there may be a lot of misconceptions and fear associated with hospice.
So the basic 101 about hospice that I hope to convey include:
- - most patients could probably benefit from being put on hospice a lot sooner than the family realizes
- - just because a patient is on hospice, doesn’t necessarily mean that death is days or even weeks away
o in fact, some perk up and improve so much from the extra attention, they may even get disqualified from continued service
- goal is comfort for the patient and support for the family
o to make the patient as comfortable as possible with as much dignity as possible… so that the days can be spent hassle-free without a lot of extraordinary measures and invasive procedures
o to give family and caregivers support, encouragement, and a resource from professionals with tremendous experience with end of life issues
It will be challenging to convey all this with a language and cultural barrier, but we’ll see how it goes.
In the meanwhile, I hope to spend some quality time just being with my grandmother. Simple things like the sound of ones voice or the feel of ones hand… can go a long way in communicating love and offering comfort. I also hope to give some relief and provide emotional and physical support to my aging aunt who is the primary caregiver… and the same to my other aunt who carries a lot of the logistical and physical responsibilities associated with the care.
Leaving my four children behind on this short weekend trip is not easy. I am forced to rely on other caregivers to manage the day to day logistics and needs of my kids. At the same time, I look forward to sleeping in! I admit I am a “control-freak” and often feel the need to call or text multiple times a day just to find out what is going on and whether things are smooth. It so happens that my phone developed an issue and I cannot currently make calls or receive calls and texts on the cellular network. I am sitting here on the plane typing this hoping to fix the problem the minute I land. I realize that at the end of the day, even if things are not going as smooth as I like back home… what can I do? Maybe not having contact for a while can be a good lesson for me to let go and let be. Oh… let’s see if I can do that.
So back to my earlier comment about it being a crazy time to fly… at least on this flight from Philly… no one seems to be acutely ill or overly worried about contracting anything =)