ARTICLES / Story Contest Winners / Comes
a Time /
Our family was fortunate to be able
to take care of my father at home following a stroke in
2003. My father had three seasoned caregivers in my
mother, sister and myself. But the beginning of 2013
brought a change. At 88, his health was rapidly
declining. His appetite was gone and he'd lost weight.
He was constantly cold and exhausted. At the doctor's
office, I stated that our "goal" was to keep him home as
long as possible. No extensive tests or procedures.
Surgery was out of the question. The doctor's assistant
suggested we try a home health aide with a facility they
frequently do business with. I silently disagreed with
this because I felt his time was drawing near and we
were in need of much more support than a home health
aide. But, this was new territory, so my mother and I
agreed to their advice.
From the get go, trying to deal with this facility was a
nightmare. After numerous calls to try and set up an
initial meeting, it was clear this wasn't going to work.
No one knew what was going on, no one returned my calls,
and one person even referred to my parents as "the
twins" as the call was diverted to their maternity ward!
They were incompetent and unprofessional. Frustrated and
furious, I called my father's doctor and explained the
situation. I insisted that they find us another facility
to use as we were not going to deal with the
incompetence we had just encountered. It was then that
they referred us to hospice. This turned out to be
exactly what we needed and should've had following our
I believe that many doctors are still apprehensive about
suggesting hospice even when it is clearly an
appropriate alternative. There is still the stigma that
you or your doctors have given up and there's nothing
left to do. But hospice isn't about giving up; it's
about acceptance. And helping the family cope with
nursing visits, phone calls, medication, medical
equipment and support at home certainly isn't "doing
nothing." It was a huge relief knowing that help was
just a phone call away any time of day or night.
As it turned out, we only needed hospice for three weeks
as my father passed away peacefully at home. On the
evening he died, hospice was notified and quickly sent a
representative to the house. We couldn't have asked for
more than that.
Sometimes, it's hard to know when your role as a
caregiver is nearing the end. But there comes a time
when every caregiver needs extra help. If you trust
yourself and your instincts, they will guide you with
making the best decision possible. And, when something
doesn't go right or feel right to you, speak up. Don't
wait for the help you need; be proactive and insistent.
You will never regret that you fought hard for your
loved one and yourself.