Death Feed

...Naturally, these decisions aren't only made because of economics. Most of us have at least a little of the "we take care of our own" mentality. Our parents took care of us, and likely their own parents. Now it's our turn to take care of them. Also, many people are distrustful of hired caregivers, either because of horror stories spread through decades or because they've had a friend who has had a bad experience. Read more →

...Some situations, of course, leave no room for laughter. But some tough times can offer moments of levity if we choose to recognize them. My sister, Beth, and I experienced what to some people may be a rather macabre situation during the three days our mother was going through the death process. If we hadn’t maintained our senses of humor, I’m not sure how we would have handled those sad, seemingly endless days. Read more →

Dear Carol: My dad’s been in a nursing home for several years and is ready for hospice care. I read your column about hospice care being covered by most insurances but I’m wondering what happens in a nursing home. Does insurance start to cover nursing home costs, then, too? Would it be better to move Dad home for this time period? It’s hard to make these decisions at such a stressful time. – RE Read more →

Hospice organizations are keenly aware of the soothing power of music. Sometimes the music may be used casually, by the facility or the family, knowing that this is a type of music that the person who is in the dying process had always enjoyed. Increasingly, though, employing trained music therapists has been favored. Read more →

Thankfully, during this past decade, because of technology along with other awareness efforts, caregiver support has exploded with resources and professional help. Still, caregivers long to connect personally with each other and share, on an intimate level, what they’ve learned. The stories below are examples of that sharing spirit. Caregiving will change your life both positively and negatively, but these caregivers make it clear that you don’t have to go through it alone. Read more →

“Carol!” The hospice nurse’s voice was quiet but urgent. I instinctively knew what was happening. She had been shifting Dad’s position so that he wouldn’t develop bed sores, but as she was laying him back on the bed, something changed in his respiration. This was it. His body was preparing for him to take his last breath.  Read more →

Our culture has historically been devoted to cure illness at all costs, and death is often looked at as "failure," no matter the age or condition of the person being treated. Many other cultures readily accept death as part of the life cycle. I believe we, as a culture, are making progress in this direction, but death still tends to be a word people avoid. If it's up to you to inform a loved one that he or she would be more comfortable under hospice care – or that a person they love will be on hospice care – there are steps you can take to get you through this difficult transition. Read more →

Dear Carol: My dad has aggressive prostate cancer that has spread to his liver and bones. His oncologist isn’t very communicative and when I asked about hospice care he said that’s up to us. He told us that Dad won’t get better but that he can keep treating him if we want. The treatments make Dad miserable. If they won’t help, what’s the point? I feel strongly that Dad needs hospice care and have been trying to talk my mom into it but she’s dragging her feet. How do we go about getting the service? Which one do we choose? Will Mom have to go on Medicaid to get it paid for? This is her biggest fear. – ST Read more →

In my view, everyone over the age of 18 ought to have appropriate health care and financial documents that will assign a trusted person to speak for them should they, for whatever reason, be unable to speak for themselves. But most people wait until they’re well into middle age before taking care of this important legal work. For those who die young, or are disabled because of an unexpected event such as a car accident or ill-fated dive into an unfamiliar lake, it’s too late. Read more →

Dear Carol: This January marks one year since my mother died. My dad adored her, as we all did, but he’s having a harder time adjusting than we kids, which I suppose is to be expected. Mom had cancer but her treatments proved to be ineffective so she eventually went on hospice care. With hospice helping, Mom was coherent during the holidays last year. We got through it though, and dad did admirably well, considering the circumstances. I think he kept up a front for Mom’s sake. Once she died, which was mid-month, he fell apart and had only marginally recovered before this year’s holidays approached. The family struggled through a low key Thanksgiving and Christmas, but with the New Year and mom’s death anniversary coming up, I’m afraid for Dad. Though he made an effort over Christmas for the grandchildren, he’s now become depressed and withdrawn. I know that suicide is an issue for older people. I don't think he's that bad, yet, but I’m scared. – FM Read more →