Good news/Bad news: Mom is getting kicked out of Hospice
OK. They don't say "kicked out" they say "graduating" or "no longer eligible."
When Ma (93, dementia, mobility issues) broke her hip the end of April, the hospital palliative care nurse said she may not have a week to live. She was discharged back to her NH (which she'd been in less than 2 months), on hospice.
She did not die the first week. She had a real tough time with pain, and her dementia symptoms got worse. She could no longer get out of bed alone, or walk, or transfer without a sit-to-stand device. She does not tolerate narcotics well. She has a low pain threshold and an almost irrational fear of pain. Hospice and the NH staff did the best they could to manage the pain. She had no therapy for her hip.
It has been a tough couple of months. Still, she progressed. Hospice got her into a comfortable geri chair. NH got her up and dressed each day. She had meals in the dining room and gained 8 pounds in that period. Her cognitive level is back to its baseline before the hip injury. (She still has dementia, but no worse than before.) After weeks of sleep problems she now sleeps through most nights, and is alert most days.
Obviously it is great, great news that she is no longer considered likely to die within the next 6 months. Hooray!
The downside of getting off hospice is first and foremost it will be more cumbersome to get and adjust medications if that becomes necessary. We'll hope it isn't, and advocate as well as we come if it arises.
Also, it was nice to have volunteer visitors who did her nails or gave her a lotion rub, or just talked to her for an hour twice a week. Ma has at least one, often two or three visits from her daughters every day. I think she won't miss the attention so much.
It was good to have the additional medical attention while she was in crisis. The NH appreciated it, too. But she is stable now. So this is not a big concern.
She will have to give up the air-mattress bed pad thingee. But since she is no longer bedbound and has had no problems with bed sores, that seems reasonable.
We will sorely miss the comfortable geri chair! Because she is a fall risk she is not left alone in her room and she spends a lot of time outside the nursing office, reading, doing crosswords, or folding towels (she loves that!). It will not be very comfortable doing that for long periods in a regular wheel chair, given her arthritis and the broken hip. We will try to have the doctor order one. If that doesn't work, we'll try to round up the money to buy one.
Sometimes someone posts with the worry that hospice shortens someone's life. Nonsense! Breaking her hip may have shortened Ma's life, who knows?, but the kind and effective care she got from hospice and NH (and the advocacy of her children) brought her through a very difficult medical trauma and back to her former baseline. We'll celebrate her 94th BD next month.