Helping Sick Parents – Part II: Guest Blog by Jeanie Hanley

I couldn’t do it. I kept feeling that I needed to physically be at the hospital to meet with the social services, rehab specialists (PT/OT) and doctor for my mother who has advanced dementia that declined after an arthritic knee caused her to fall and to lose the few skills she had: feeding herself and walking.

During the hospital meeting with my mother’s hospitalist and rehab director, they continually used medical jargon. My desire to physically be there was validated by this and I felt I became a translator to my brother and father, letting the medical personnel know that this was unacceptable communication and explanations were needed. This visit prompted me to attend the social services meeting a few days later.  On this day, I started wheezing and already was losing weight with worry, but I felt compelled to be present for the social services meeting instead of going to my pulmonologist’s appointment that was at the same time. While at my mother’s hospital I happened to bump into the hospitalist in the hallway on the way to the meeting. Because of this chance encounter, my mother is now receiving 24/7 hospice care at home, something my dad had originally refused, mostly due to a poor understanding of what hospice care is. Another confirmation that I needed to be there.

Would it have turned out the same if I hadn’t been there? Maybe or maybe not. I believe overall it was worth it.  The next day, you may be proud to know that I stayed home while all the hospice equipment was delivered to my parent’s home – hospital bed, sensor devices, wheelchair, etc. My brother was present and helped to orchestrate the delivery and help my father. It all went smoothly without me. Yay!

I did make it the pulmonologist’s office two days later when the wheezing persisted and am now on oral steroids, which will probably help put the pounds back on. For me this is a small price to pay for the services I was able to get for my mother. Now that the foundation is in place, I can take a bit of breather (literally and figuratively) and then focus on the inevitable loss of my mother and implications for my father.

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