My father-in-law passed away at our home last May of 2014. It has been an interesting journey for myself as well as my family up until his death and afterwards as we move on without his physical presence.
Last February, my husband and myself went to Stockton California to tell my in-laws that they would have to move here with us in the Denver area. My father-in-law (dad) was very ill and my blind mother-in-law (mom) was taking care of him at the assisted living facility with no extra help.
It is interesting what denial does for us. My mother-in-law could not see or realize how sick dad was. Through reports of mom's sister who lived near by did we realize we had to step in. Dad was a very proud individual like we all are. He was the King and mom was very sub-servient to his every need all of her life.
So we flew in for my husband to tell his dad that they had to move. We would know if dad was very sick if he did not fight us - which he did not.
The day we flew in dad was very upset in the form of being nervous. It was not until that evening did he exhibit signs of "sundowners" which I recognized. It turned out the 9 days we were there that I did the midnight shift as dad was very afraid of being alone - quite the opposite of what dad's behavior was before he became more sick. This time of us being there gave mom a chance to get better sleep and more help.
We left for home and would be back in a couple of weeks to move them. Home for three days, I received a call from mom's sister telling us that dad was getting worse and mom was a basket case because dad needed more help. We immediately booked a flight out in 2 days to get them moved out. In the meantime, mom had called her sister telling her she was going to call us for me to come out early. It is interesting to note only because we were out there for 9 days taking care of dad and when we left did mom realize how much help dad needed and she could not do it anymore. Dad was 87 and mom 86 at time.
So we hired a medical transport with a nurse to bring dad and mom home - I wrote with them on the 22 hour straight through drive (except for bathroom and food breaks). Yes it cost a lot of money but I nor my husband would be able to live with ourselves if dad would have died while we were driving back to Denver.
Once at home, I talked with my husband about bringing in hospice. Myself being a holistic body mind practitioner and a nursing assistant, I knew we needed this program and support. Mom did not recognize or realize how sick dad was. He had congestion heart failure and his legs were just leaking a lot, diabetes, bladder cancer, body-wasting, and just swelling up terrible at times.
We made the decision not to tell either dad or mom that we were bringing in the hospice program - it would have only brought stress and mis-understandings to the situation we were dealing with. It was presented as a comfort program. Many people may feel that hospice means death and yes that does happen but then it doesn't. Some individuals do so well under the program that they no longer need it so they are discharge. The reason - it is because of the care provided - more oversight - if there is an issue - it is addressed 24/7. A nurse visit weekly and a nursing assistant visit twice a week for showers and bathing.
I recognize that dad needed this support and so did I and my husband. This program allowed us to keep dad here at our house and provided the highest possible quality of life care for him.
The first time dad's nursing assistant gave him a shower he told mom that that was the first time he had water in his shower. Prior to this mom would help dad with his showers - mom can't see and dad could not do a lot for himself. It was a great laughter moment for mom and us when dad said it was the first time he had water used in his shower.
The nurse came for her first visit. After she left, he said she didn't do anything for him. That was dad! He would eventually see the value of his nurse as time went on.
Within a week, we had to call the nurse on a Sunday with a medical issue - the nurse on call came out and examined dad. This call was about swelling in the lower private areas. There was not much we could do other than give another water pill to help rid dad of the extra fluid.
The second visit from the nurse, we ordered a hospital bed and other medical equipment we would need. Dad was against the hospital bed and he sat and slept in his recliner. I knew evidently we would need the bed so since I did the midnight shifts from time to time I would sleep in it. We gave dad a wireless door bell chime button so if I was not in his room he could ring it and I would come immediately.
I am going to return for more of our journey of taking care of dad in hospice. Later in my blog I will tell of dad's experiences as he transitioned from the physical world to the spiritual world.
Until next time!