I’ve had three experiences with hospice. Only one of them was direct. I’ve also read a great deal about it. It is a wonderful resource for those facing end of life issues. It helps the person who is passing on and it helps the family.
My first indirect experience was with my grandfather. He lived about 2500 miles away, so all I could do was listen to what was happening at the time. Many of the family members who were taking care of him were advanced in years. They couldn’t do all of the things that needed done. Hospice sent someone to help.
My second experience was even less direct. It was a young hospice care in pasadena child, related via a relative’s workmates. She had a lethal form of cancer. The family blogged her story from diagnosis to death.
They spoke a great deal about hospice. Hospice provided respite care so that the family could take a break when needed. They counseled the child and the rest of the family. They explained to the parents what was happening, what would happen next and what to do. After reading those blogs, I was crying for their loss but *very* glad hospice was there for them.
The last experience was with a family friend. She had the same type of cancer as the girl above. The fight to live lasted about a year. When hospice was called in, they provided several needed services. They washed her hair. They taught another family member how to give medications. They took care of the various tubing.
After our friend died, they came to help make sure the family could cope with the next steps. The nurse removed the tubes and gathered all the medications. She helped call the mortuary.
I was there at the time, and the people who came for her said they couldn’t use a gurney to take her down the stairs. The hospice nurse made sure that all of us were not there to see what happened next. I don’t know about her family, but I would have lost it then and there.
After the body was removed, she stayed for a while to make sure her family would be all right. She approved of the steps planned to help them. She made a hellish situation a little less hellish.
To me, hospice is one of the most important parts of both eldercare and death/dying issues. It is often called in far too late for all of the services offered. However, when they are called in, they will be right there beside you. Don’t be afraid; if you need them, call.