Saturday, October 24, 2009


I cannot say enough good things about LSS hospice. They have been so kind and so helpful to my mother. Until we came to the final stage of her cruel dementia, I had not even realized that Hospice was an OPTION for dementia care. My mother had become dramatically more lethargic over the summer. That wonderful Alzheimer's "Zen" sense of being relational in the moment where you could hug and be hugged or laugh and be laughed with even though you know that she might not know who you are or what the joke was had gone.

We knew her interest in eating had gone when I found a bar of chocolate in my purse and tried to share it with her. Even six months before she had been sneaking into the pantry to steal chocolate chip cookies, eating her dessert first. When I saw she could not register "chocolate" I knew that this horrible disease had robbed her of everything at last.

But I did not know that Alzheimer's patients are eligible for hospice. Our nurse talks to me every time there is a "change." The intake worker was very helpful and explained to me what is covered and what is not covered. I was amazed by how many things can be treated under the heading "comfort." Flu shots, for example, because having the flu is so unpleasant. Broken bones, for example, can be set. The difference, as I understand it, is if a hospice patient falls and breaks a hip, they will go to the ER and get stabilized but they probably will not get some prosthetic device involving titanium or whatever... Antibiotics for a respiratory infection will happen, ICU on a vent will not. Their goal is to make her last weeks comfortable.

I didn't realize that you can "renew" your eligibility for hospice. I suppose there are people who have miraculous cures and cease to be eligible. But sometimes people who seem to their MD's to have less than six months to live surprise their doctors but if the MD still thinks it likely that they will die in six months, they get an extension.

In our case, however, we are looking at weeks not months. I have felt amazingly well cared for by LSS and think that N. has been well cared for, too. And the staff of Meramec Bluffs have been lovely, too. They gently introduced the idea that it might be hospice time. They have kept me up to date on her condition the whole time. And they have been very sweet when we have been there, knowing that we are skating on the thin ice between normalcy and grief.