Yes, Mom Is Ready For Hospice

Celebrating mom's 70th birthday in 2007 in northern Minnesota.

My family met with hospice yesterday and my mother qualifies for care under the diagnosis of “debility,” also known as failure to thrive.  It’s my understanding that mom didn’t qualify under “dementia” because she can still walk. When you look at my mom you wouldn’t think she’s ready for hospice, but when you put everything together it makes sense:

  • terminal illness
  • requires assistance in all Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
  • weight loss — 13 pounds since December
  • pneumonia
  • seizure
  • difficulty swallowing

Saying YES to the “comfort care” of hospice means saying NO to life saving measures.  It indicates surrender and turning towards death rather than away from it.  It means 911 will not be called if my mom has another seizure, and antibiotics are an option if she gets pneumonia again.  It feels a little bit like playing God, but mostly, it just feels like compassion.

Mom supported Jack Kevorkian’s mission and believed we should be as kind to humans as we are to animals.  Mom would approve of this hospice plan because if she could articulate her thoughts, I’m pretty sure she’d say she’s had enough.

Hospice will need to re-qualify mom in three months to determine if services are still necessary, but she isn’t getting better and I’m guessing she’ll be re-approved.

So there it is.  We don’t know how much longer little Ruthie Hall from Wadena, MN will be with us, but I am not ashamed to hope for a swift and peaceful transition.

2007 Mom always enjoyed swimming.

 

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Comments

  1. Jeanne says:

    Joanne,
    I’m sure everyone agrees with you and supports this decision. You are all constantly on my mind.
    Love you

  2. cindy says:

    Daughter to Daughter, Seeing our moms diminished is harder than seeing them fly into eternity. . . Peace and love.

  3. Helen Kay says:

    This all makes me so sad. I realize we are getting older and leaving this world one by one but it really is hard to know that one of your very best friends time is near. I know I have talked about coming to see Ruth but haven’t gotten there. This has not been a good winter weather wise and it seems my life has been as busy as ever. I am sure your
    choice of hospice is an excellent decision. They are so helpful and reassuring at times like this. If there is anything I can do, let me know. Helen Kay

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      Dear Helen Kay, It’s always so good to hear from you — dear friend of my mother. It’s okay, life is busy, it’s okay. Yes, we are so happy with the support of hospice, and we went with Allina after a couple of good recommendations. It’s a team of compassion and support that has blown us away so far. I hope you’re well. Thank you, Joanne

  4. A difficult decision no matter what, but hospice is such a blessing. Wishing you peace…

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      Hi Ann, Yes, hospice is a difficult decision, but I’m so glad we have them on our side. They’ve been so supportive already with open and honest communication which is just awesome right now. Thank you for your support. Joanne

  5. Melody says:

    I know how difficult this is to go through. Hospice will be a tremendous help and comfort to you during this time. They are very compassionate and will be a great support for you. Trust them. You continue to be on my heart. I am traveling the same path, but somewhat behind you. Sending you Peace, Comfort and Strength.

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      Dear Melody, You are always so supportive and I appreciate that. Hospice is a big support right now and I highly recommend them to anyone looking at 6 months or less — but really, 1 year or less could work too. Instead of looking at them like “end of life” care, I see them as extra love & support. We don’t know how long my mom will be with us, but how ever long that is — hospice is exactly what’s needed right now. It’s such peace of mind and allows me to let go just a little bit more . . . Blessing to you dear Melody on your journey as well. xox Joanne

  6. Mary says:

    thank you so much for sharing your moms story,I am taking care of my mom, she had a few episodes of seizures and the doctors couldn’t find a reason, they did all tests, I’m glad to know and read that other patients do have seizures. Once again thank you.
    Mary

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      Hi Mary, We don’t know the reason why mom had a seizure, just that it’s not uncommon for someone with dementia. I imagine mom’s brain going through a lot of changes and a seizure just seems to make sense, you know? I wish you well with your mom, and please stop by again! ~ Joanne

  7. Anonymous says:

    hospice is a great option because they offer support for family and friends to help prepare for the death of a loved one. They offer services and support 24 hours a day 7 days a week anytime needed. I loved when some of our residents in the nursing home I worked at had hospice because it is easier to get the pain medications needed for chronic pain when they are on hospice and comfort measures. There isn’t alot of wasting time waiting for a doctor to return your call. Love, strength and prayers for her, you and your family during this time… enjoy every minute you spend with her even if it seems she doesn’t understand whats going on. Pictures are always a good idea even if she doesn’t remember the event or the people in them, it gives a good time to tell a story for her to enjoy for that moment in her day. 🙂

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      Hospice has been great so far and has been a tremendous help in getting mom to a “good place” in terms of managing her agitation and restlessness. Basically, fine tuning the meds — which is so much easier to do when a nurse visits three days a week.

  8. Michelle G. Fox says:

    Yes, Ruthie is ready for Hospice. I am a licensed social worker who works in Hospice care but more importantly, I am the daughter of an 81 one year old mom with Alzheimer’s Disease. She has had this terrible disease for the better part of 10 years and is still going but we are watching drastic declines now.
    Your sweet Ruthie, would want, what you want for her as well. Somewhere in that brain, she knows the heartache you feel, how you have suffered watching her slip away…that long goodbye. Somehow, I feel like they know. Hospice will be good. Great support and even though it is for palliative care only, you are doing what is right for Ruthie and you. God Bless.

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      Hi Michelle, I’m so glad you visited here. I feel the same way too about mom — that there is a part of her that knows what’s going on, and knows when she is with family. It’s hidden away — but she knows on some level, I’m positive. I’m sorry about your mom, 10 years is a long time. It seems like the declines come more quickly near the end I think. Blessings to you Michelle.

  9. Terri Macklem Banaszewski says:

    Joanne,
    I just pulled this update as I am visiting my mom.Virginia inWadena this weekend. It has taken her by surprise at the stage Ruth is in but my mom is very supportive of the care you have chosen. It is very difficult to see our parents age much less have this awful disease. Thank you for keeping this up to date, I am bringing my mom to the cities for the week so maybe she can connect with Gary over the phone for more updates. You are in our prayers.

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      Hi Terri! What a pleasant surprise to find you here! I’m so glad you found my blog and are able to help your mom stay in the loop with my mom. The hospice nurse has said mom is stabilizing and it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if she is removed from hospice care. We’ll see what the three month evaluation has to say. I so enjoy being in touch with your momma — we’ve been writing a little bit and she feels like home to me. I’m so glad you stopped by Terry, please say hello to the rest of your family. (Mom is really easy to find in Richfield and I know would LOVE to see your mom — just email me for details.)

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