Call Hospice for Your Mom!
I meddled! A former neighbor sounded awful when I phoned the other night. She’s very old; has had cancer successfully treated over decades, but it sounds like the end may be near. There’s no “maybe” about the pain she says she has had for some time. There’s an aide with her 24/7 so I didn’t think hospice was involved, although it sounded like they should be.
After speaking with a mutual friend, I talked myself into feeling comfortable phoning one of her two adult children. (I knew them from years ago–although I’d only been sporadically in touch since their mother moved away.)
Uncomfortable conversations immediately trigger my What’s the Goal? response. My answer to myself: Find out if hospice is involved. If not, respectfully and gently provide information.
Both children live far from their mother. Knowing the family dynamics from way back I understand one bears 99.9-100% of the responsibility and has been great. That’s the logical child to contact.
I made the call, leaving a simple message. It had three parts, the first–objective information: “I phoned your mother several nights ago and she said she felt awful and could she call me back.” Next, the personal: “I haven’t heard back so I’m wondering how she’s doing.” Then conveying understanding: “It sounds like this is a rough time and I hope my phone call isn’t an intrusion.”
My call was returned within the hour, with appreciation. (We need to be careful not to make adult children feel defensive/judged. Easier said than done.) The simple, thought-out-beforehand sentence works.
I learned things were stressful. Doctors weren’t returning calls in a timely fashion; things got delayed, cancelled. A special trip to visit the mother in Florida 10 days earlier resulted in employing a geriatric care manager to move things forward. Approval from the insurance company was needed for an important test. They’re still waiting–it has been over a week. Depending upon the test results, the plan is to check the availability of hospice care.
Bingo! The logical time to mention hospice was at hand. “Why wait to call hospice?” I asked, following up with the thought that hospice could provide some relief. Not knowing if hospice requirements differ by state, I made that known. Then I shared my parents’ experience when hospice became involved, made them more comfortable, and the relief I felt having the extra support. The response I got makes me think the message–why wait– got through. Calling hospice sooner, not later, seemed to be the new plan.
Bottom line: Calling hospice–or suggesting someone contact hospice–may be uncomfortable. But calling sooner–rather than later–offers professional, appropriate comfort to patient and family and a better chance for a satisfying ending. So many have said “I wish I’d called hospice sooner.”
Related: Aging Parents and Hospice: To Call, Not to Call, When to Call
A sample of what Googling “who is eligible for hospice in Florida” provides.
Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities. respected professionals and selected publications–to help parents age well.
You took a risk and did the right thing. We are always afraid our good deeds might be construed as “meddling”. In your case, it worked, and the adult children were grateful. Takes courage and conviction!
True, but always a delicate balance isn’t it? When our instincts are usually right, it makes sense to go with them. If not usually right, it seems we need to tread lightly, don’t we.